Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

(Harry, Ron, and Hermione were walking through woods at night. Then Ron yelled with pain. When Hermione threw the light over him,)

Ron was lying sprawled on the ground.

“Tripped over a tree root,” he said angrily, getting to his feet again.

“Well, with feet that size, hard not to,” said a drawling voice from behind them.

Harry, Ron, and Hermione turned sharply. Draco Malfoy was standing alone nearby, leaning against a tree, looking utterly relaxed.

(p121, Harry Potter 4, US edition)

As a side note,

  • Draco Malfoy is on bad terms with them and always makes a fool of them.

  • Ron is a long and lanky boy. (So it seems that his feet are big.)

In my country, there is a phrase which has such a meaning that a fool has big feet. (Of course, it’s only a phrase, not truth!)

So, without thinking, I felt like taking ‘with feet that size’ as a derisive connotation. However, it suddenly occurred to me that the idea might be unusual in the English speaking world.

Is Draco expressing derisive feeling by referring to the size of feet?

Do English speaking people think the same way as me in terms of big feet?

share|improve this question
    
There is no equivalent expression that I know if in English corresponding to your language's "a fool has big feet." –  Robusto Jun 4 '11 at 14:16
1  
EL&U is about the English language, not English speaking culture. –  MrHen Jun 4 '11 at 22:02
    
@Robusto Oh, I see! Thanks for the good info. –  user7493 Jun 5 '11 at 9:22
    
@Mr Hen Thank you for your advice. But in this case, I’m afraid, I couldn't consider culture and language usage separately, though there might be a problem in the title of the question. Sorry about that. –  user7493 Jun 5 '11 at 9:24

3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Children and bullies may well tease about big feet, but that's just because children and bullies pick on anything that differentiates the victim. I wouldn't say — in Britain at least — that there's any general association between large feet and foolishness or another negative characteristic.

In certain social settings, if the size of a man's feet is mentioned it's most likely an allusion to a debunked urban myth that correlates size of feet to size of a man's genitalia.

share|improve this answer
    
Your answer greatly helps me understanding the context. My reading was somehow being narrowed into only a cultural aspect, but they are teenagers! Your words reminded me of the fact. Thank you. –  user7493 Jun 5 '11 at 9:25

They sure like to make jokes about them.

Here's one that might establish that English speaking people do think derisively of big feet:

Two sisters arrived home from school crying their eyes out. "What's the matter with the two of you?" asked their mother.

"All the kids at school always make fun of my big feet," wailed the first sister...

N.B. Emphasis added by me.

share|improve this answer
1  
My dad used to quote a phrase when we were in the way/blocking the light/etc.: "I loves ya, honey, but your feet's too big for the bed!" –  MT_Head Jun 4 '11 at 23:06
    
I searched the Internet for the joke to get the whole thing. It’s funny! Informative at the same time. Thanks a lot. –  user7493 Jun 5 '11 at 9:28
    
@MT Head Thanks for the lovely example! –  user7493 Jun 5 '11 at 9:30
    
But in this context, the sister's distress is over a non-feminine trait, cf. “Fred Flintstone feet.” It isn't a sign of general disdain for big feet. –  Greg Bacon Jun 5 '11 at 20:57

I don't know of any specific set phrase or idiom, but there is sometimes an association between large feet and being clumsy. For instance, the description of one Facebook group includes:

Some people think that it makes them strange or silly looking, or maybe even clumsy. To those people, I SAY NAY!

A similar foot-related idiom is flat-footed, meaning (among other things) unimaginative, dull, plodding.

I am not aware of an idiom that expresses stupidity by relation to foot shape.

share|improve this answer
    
I’m really interested in what you mentioned because I’ve heard that some English speaking people think much of high arch feet. Anyway, I can get important info from you that large size feet are sometimes associated with clumsiness. Thanks a lot. –  user7493 Jun 5 '11 at 9:31

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.