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I've encountered phrase like "he bowed them inside" several times in different stories. What does it actually mean?

Does it mean, that he very politely accompanied them inside or does that literally mean, that he walked inside with them bowing to them every now and again?

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It's really not standard English. –  Charles Apr 28 '11 at 14:30
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"He bowed them inside" is not a particularly standard piece of English writing. It means roughly the same as "He bowed to them, indicating that they should enter. They went inside." It doesn't imply anything about him moving; in fact I would expect it mostly to be used when "he" is a doorman who would not be going inside himself.

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I guess the same can be said about "bowed them from the shop"? This is from Harry Potter I, chapter five, where Ollivander sees Potter to the door. –  FractalizeR Apr 28 '11 at 14:37
    
@FractalizeR: Yes, that's right. It would be more usual to write that he "bowed as they left the shop." In this particular case "bowing them out" is a less "fussy" way to write the sentence. –  user1579 Apr 28 '11 at 22:55
    
I had no idea what "He bowed them inside" meant, until after the seeing the explanations (which give context). So if it's standard English I'd not seen it. –  Carl Brannen Apr 29 '11 at 0:08
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I would have said politely allowed them inside.

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Using a bow as a gesture in place of waving a hand or similar.

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