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Harry took the hint and sat down next to Percy, who was wearing brand-new, navy-blue dress robes and an expression of such smugness that Harry thought it ought to be fined. (Harry Potter 4 [US Version]: p.415)[Bold font is mine]

I thought at first ‘fine’ in this sentence meant ‘to make somebody pay money as an official punishment’. However, I’m starting to doubt my first judge; I couldn’t find any examples of the ‘fine’ which accepts blamable things, like smugness, as its direct object.

Would you give me the true meaning of the sentence?

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2 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Your intuition is correct; the idea J.K. Rowling is expressing here is that Percy ought to be fined for having the expression, not that the expression itself ought to be fined.

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It means Percy should pay money as a punishment for being too smug.

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@totoro, However not literally, but figuratively; see simile. –  Unreason Jul 21 '11 at 8:28
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