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A dictionary says plough means to form furrows with a plow, so I thought those who got ploughed in sports had deep cuts. However, my understanding might be a little strange in the following context (Harry Potter 4 [US Version]: p.108) , because he hit the ground. What kind and degree of injury did he get when he got ploughed? Would you use ‘get ploughed’ in common sports, I mean, non-magical sports?

(The sport’s players are flying on their brooms. Two of them are diving for a small ball.)

at the very last second, Viktor Krum pulled out of the dive and spiraled off. Lynch, however, hit the ground with a dull thud that could be heard throughout the stadium. A huge groan rose from the Irish seats.

(Then a spectator, Charlie, says)

”He’ll be okay, he only got ploughed!” Charlie said reassuringly to Ginny, who was hanging over the side of the box, looking horror-struck. [bold font is mine]

Side Note: I think ‘only’ means that it’s easy to recover by magic. So I guess ‘get ploughed’ causes serious injury in our world.

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3 Answers

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I take the "idiom" behind Charlie's usage to be derived, as onomatomaniak says, from the agricultural plough, with the full meaning of the expression intended to be something like "he only got (tricked into playing the part of a plough)"; i.e. because of Krum's maneuver, Lynch ran into the ground and dug up a big furrow of dirt just like a plough does.

I could see this sort of usage in, for example, American-style football if a player gets tackled while running and the tackler lands on top of him, essentially pushing the tackled player into the field as he slides to a stop. (Although causing actual damage to the field is rather unlikely, with the predominance of astroturf and other artificial surfaces.) The 'ploughed' player in this situation would probably have some abrasions and contusions, and possibly some blunt-force trauma from impacting the ground too hard if he didn't have adequate protective gear (football players are well-armored; Quidditch players, not so much).

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Thanks for your amazing explanation. I can just imagine the scene. –  user7493 Oct 1 '11 at 6:42
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I am not familiar with its use in a sporting context, but it may be related to its use in some British academic circles, where a ploughed examination candidate is (or, at least, used to be) one who has been rejected as not reachng the required standard.

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This isn't really an answer to the question; it would do better as a comment. –  onomatomaniak Sep 30 '11 at 10:04
    
@Barrie England I’m surprised with the wide variety of plough usage, (though I don’t know how to use agricultural plough). Thanks. –  user7493 Oct 1 '11 at 6:45
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The plough (or plow) is an agricultural tool that's used in several idioms in English. Most of these idioms refer to the tool's power and efficiency, a fact that reflects the crucial nature of the tool to agricultural societies.

Some examples:

To get ploughed/plowed or get ploughed/plowed under generally means to get knocked over or knocked down. It can be literal (as in your example) or figurative.

To plough/plow into means to run thoughtlessly into someone or something.

To plough/plow through means to push through a long and/or arduous task and complete it as quickly as possible

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Consider this more common image of a plough, also spelled "plow" in the US, and imagine the damage done when it runs you over. –  oosterwal Sep 30 '11 at 17:20
    
@oosterwal Of course! I don’t want to let it run me over. –  user7493 Oct 1 '11 at 6:43
    
@onomatomaniak +1 I know your answer has a wide application. That was greatly helpful. Thanks. –  user7493 Oct 1 '11 at 6:44
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