A breeze ruffled the neat hedges of Privet Drive, which lay silent and tidy under the inky sky, the very last place you would expect astonishing things to happen. Harry Potter [a baby] rolled over inside his blankets without waking up. One small hand closed on the letter beside him and he slept on, not knowing he was special, not knowing he was famous, not knowing he would be woken in a few hours' time by Mrs. Dursley's scream as she opened the front door to put out the milk bottles, nor that he would spend the next few weeks being prodded and pinched by his cousin Dudley...
(Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone)

What’s the meaning of ‘over’ in the example?
(1) If we adopt the meaning of ‘roll’ as "to move or rock from side to side,” I think ‘over’ could mean ‘repeatedly: adv 11.’ So the baby might have been swaying in the blanket repeatedly.
(2) If we adopt the ‘rolled’ as a participle, the sentence can be a noun phrase that has a participle in it; ‘rolled over’ could mean ‘wrapped: v.tr.12a completely: adv 4.’ - Next sentence also has participle in its noun phrase (absolute phrase).; for the letter was closed on by an adult.
(3) I think one of the two above would be proper, but ‘roll over completely, 360 degrees’ wouldn’t. What can be the proper meaning of the ‘over’?

closed as general reference by FumbleFingers, MetaEd, Kris, JLG, tchrist Feb 28 '13 at 12:54

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.


It means baby Harry had been sleeping on his back and then he rolled over so he was sleeping on his stomach- or vice versa.

Over in this case is the same as in to turn over which means to put what was on the bottom, on the top; When the steak is browned on one side, turn it over in the pan and brown the other side

  • But how could a baby, in the blanket wrapped up – it’s the season of Bonfire Night, November in Britain - and put at the front door, have rolled over as you said: the adult must have tightly wrapped him up that the baby couldn’t rolled over inside? – Listenever Feb 28 '13 at 4:56
  • 1
    What you say may or may not be true for some set of babies in blankets. But in this author's story the baby managed to do it as she has written. – Jim Feb 28 '13 at 4:58
  • 2
    @Listenever: You're interpreting it too literally. Baby Harry might have been lying on his side, and wriggled/rolled less than 90° to be on his back. Besides, he being a special baby, he might have had extra special super-strength, like Superman. – FumbleFingers Feb 28 '13 at 5:49

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.