I can see her being a bit of liability It is from "The Goblet of Fire". A Bertha woman got lost and nobody knew where she had gone. And here Sirius characterizes her: "She was a bit dim, but she had an excellent memory for gossip. It used to get her into a lot of trouble; she never knew when to keep her mouth shut. I can see her being a bit of liability at the Ministry of Magic... maybe that's why Begman didn't bother to look for her so long..." With "being liable, responsibility, financial obligations, debts" for "liability" the dictionary gives an unexpected interpretation as "disadvantage", the synonym of which is "nuisance". So, that lady was not being looked for not because she had debts or obligations (what in such case she must have been definitely hunted), but simply because she had been bothering everybody a lot and it was a treat she was not there. But I can't get the logic of it, how the same word may be used almost in opposite meanings. Any thoughts?
May 12, 2016 6:28 PM
Answers · 12
Привет, Игорь Liability: someone or something that causes trouble. To put it colloquially, Bertha was a drag. The other two answers are explained very well, too.
May 12, 2016
"To be a liability" means "to be a risk" (to the business or organisation). Begman was glad to see Bertha (the risk/the liability) gone, because that meant the Ministry of Magic was more secure.
May 13, 2016
Being a liability and being responsible do NOT mean the same thing. In fact, they are close to opposite in meaning. However, being liable and being responsible are close to the same meaning. Be sure to note that in one case we are speaking of "being a liability" and in the other "being liable". Please bear in mind these expressions have very different meanings although they sound similar. In the citation that you give, the woman was apparently not socially well accepted because she talked too much. She was a hindrance or a liability at a social function because no one wanted to be around her and her presence would therefore likely detract from the success of the social gathering.
May 12, 2016
They're not really opposite though. When something is a liability, it is less desireable, and that is the same context. For example, a house that has a liability associated with it (say, the roof needs to be replaced) makes it less attractive to buy. In this passage, the searchers thought that looking for the lady was, in a sense, "not a desirable/attractive thing to do" because she was a troublemaker.
May 12, 2016
Liability: someone or something that causes problems In other words, Bertha would not contribute to success or harmony. To put it colloquially, she's a drag.
May 12, 2016
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