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Given the sentence:

It was lucky that Harry had tea with Hagrid to look forward to, because the Potions lesson turned out to be the worst thing that had happened to him so far.

The relative ‘that’ after the superlative ‘the worst’ seems to have the meaning of ‘of all that.’ If yes, is ‘that’ the short form of ‘of all that’?

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Why assume that stands for of all that? You could just as easily say the worst thing stands for the worst of all the things. –  FumbleFingers Dec 23 '12 at 3:09
    
@FumbleFingers the OP previously wondered whether that means "although", so this does not come as a complete surprise. –  RegDwigнt Dec 23 '12 at 5:11
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There were certain things-that-had-happened-to-him, and this was the worst... –  Billy Dec 23 '12 at 5:12
    
@ RegDwighт : Although your comment is the meanest thing that I’ve met in this website, I can have reviewed what I uploaded by your link. Thank you. By the way what’s the meaning of OP? –  Listenever Dec 23 '12 at 6:55
    
You are taking offense where none is intended. Quite the contrary: RegDwighт (who is, incidentally, the prime mover in the creation of a site better suited to English Language Learners) has a magisterial knowledge of this site, on which he draws to point out to FumbleFingers the context in which you (the Original Poster) should be answered. –  StoneyB Dec 23 '12 at 18:53

2 Answers 2

up vote 1 down vote accepted

You may certainly rewrite the phrase in different ways. For instance:

“the worst thing that”    “the worst thing of all that
“the worst thing that”    “the worst of all things that
the worst thing that”    “of all things the worst thing that”.

But none of these implies that the bolded form on the left is a “short” form of that on the right.

that”  “of all that
that”  “of all things that
the”    “of all things the”.

Neither of all nor of all things is present-but-omitted in that or in the. Neither is present-but-omitted in any of the words. The idea of of all (things) is ‘present’, not literally but by inference, for if something is “worse”, it must be worse than something to which it is compared, and if something is “worst” it must be worst of all things to which it is compared.

If you like, you may say that the idea of of all (things) is ‘made present’ in the -st ending on most; and that will be quite a useful notion, since it embraces not merely worst but also best and loudest and funniest as well—any superlative adjective, whether expressed with -st or with most. But when you get to that point it becomes clear that even the idea of of all is not “omitted”; it is merely not-expressed-in-those-words.

When you put of all or of all things into the sentence, or perform any other such transformation, you are not restoring something missing; you’re pointing an arrow at something you think is important, or ornamenting the sentence to make it more musical.

But all that is merely what FumbleFingers told you in the very first comment. And that, as tchrist told you (much more efficiently), “is simply the relative.”

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No, there is no such special meaning here. It is simply the relative. You are reading too much into it. It never means what you seem to be thinking it means.

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