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It says on a dictionary that ‘bang’ means to hit violently or noisily. However, I think the following bang means merely put or place because the object is a rat and because Ron ‘placed him’ after the witch’s words.

But why is she saying “bang” in this situation?

(Ron is talking with the consultant witch of a magical pet shop.)

”It’s my rat,” he told the witch. “He’s been a bit off-color ever since I brought him back from Egypt.”

”Bang him on the counter,” said the witch, pulling a pair of heavy black spectacles out of her pocket.

Ron lifted Scabbers out of his inside pocket and placed him next to the cage of his fellow rats, …(Harry Potter 3 [US Version]: p.58)

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Whew! Glad to see the context here. I was not looking forward to having to describe the off-color meaning of "bang". :-) –  T.E.D. Sep 15 '11 at 14:10
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@T.E.D.: Your image only gets worse when you realize the thing to be "banged" is a rat. –  oosterwal Sep 15 '11 at 18:34

2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

To an American, "bang" can only mean to put something somewhere with destructive force. To a Brit, however, "bang" can make to put something somewhere casually, without much effort or attention. I once heard a Englishwoman say she intended to "bang up some wallpaper" (an American would have said "throw" in the same context).

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Divided by a common language: "throw up some wallpaper" in Britain would invite the question "Why did you eat it in the first place?" –  TimLymington Sep 15 '11 at 10:17
    
That was Bang On! –  mplungjan Sep 15 '11 at 11:22
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Err...there is actually another meaning of "bang" in American English... –  T.E.D. Sep 15 '11 at 14:09
    
@TimLymington: when I first encountered the phrase "throw up" some time in the seventies, it was an Americanism. –  Colin Fine Sep 15 '11 at 16:47
    
In American English slang, "bang" means copulate and "bang up" means to impregnate. With that in mind, you might bang your spouse on the counter, but never a rat. Also, you can bang up some wallflower but it would be impossible to bang up some wallpaper. –  oosterwal Sep 15 '11 at 18:42

verb /baNG/ 

Strike or put down (something) forcefully and noisily, typically in anger or in order to attract attention

  • he began to bang the table with his fist
  • Sarah banged the phone down
  • someone was banging on the door

However in Britain it just means to put something down (casually as Malvolio suggested).
Typical expression: Just bang it in the corner there

I would like to think, that the author is referring to the Dead parrot sketch from Monty Python

PS: Bung has the same meaning in British slang: Bung it on the table

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A Monty Python reference in Harry Potter? Interesting. –  Joachim Sauer Sep 15 '11 at 7:11
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@Joachim: as an Easter egg, maybe? –  nico Sep 15 '11 at 7:27
    
I don't like it. I know Harry Potter is part of the literary canon now so I can't say "it's wrong" but I don't think I've heard this before. Bung sounds much more natural. Alternatively pop him on the counter is a much more pleasant way of saying it. –  z7sg Ѫ Sep 15 '11 at 11:34

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