a nasty bit o' trouble


Senior Member
They say he met vampires in the Black Forest, and there was a nasty bit o' trouble with a hag - never been the same since.
(Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone)

It seems ‘nasty’ denotes a very bad effect on him; yet ‘bit’ imply ‘a small piece.’ Isn’t the two words conflict with each other in a sentence?
  • GMF1991

    Senior Member
    English (UK, Suffolk)
    I think your comprehension of "nasty" is incorrect. It means bad in the sense of not nice/horrible. Thus eliminating any sense of conflict between this and "a bit".



    Senior Member
    UK English
    Bit may imply something small, but bit of trouble just means a problem of some kind. If someone says "I had a bit of a problem/a bit of trouble starting the car this morning", it may have been a big problem.


    Senior Member
    I think "bit" here should probably be considered a deliberate understatement. Understatement is used in a number of ways, and here, I think, it's supposed to be funny (I at least think it's funny :) ), and it also actually emphasizes that there was trouble.
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