What's In a Name?Book List

The Goblet of Fire...

Accio - summoning charm

"Accio" is Latin for "to call to, summon".
Albania - Vacation spot for Bertha Jorkins and 13-year hideout of Lord Voldemort.
Albania is a country in southern Europe on the Adriatic Sea.
Animagus - A wizard capable of transforming into another animal. Plural Animagi
The word "Animagus" is a combination of "animal" and "mage" (sorceror).
Apparate - magical ability to dissappear and reappear at any location
"Appareo" is Latin for "to become visible".
Arithmancy - one of Hermione's favorite subjects
Arithmancy - an early form of numerology dealing with the study of numbers, where divination is made through numbers, especially those numbers associated with the letters of a person's name. (Thanks to The Encyclopedia Potterica!)
Auror - dark wizard catcher
Based on Latin, there are two possible directions we can go. It could be based on "aurum", which means "gold", or "aura", which means "heaven, breeze".

From English, there are also several ways the word "auror" can take us. An "aura" is "a dinstinctive quality that seems to surround a person or thing". Possibly the aurors sense this? Also "aurora" can mean "dawn", which hints at a new dawn, free from the tyranny of dark wizards. Geez, I sound like Elizabeth Schafer...

Ideas? Post them on the BBS.

Avada Kedavra - unblockable killing curse
"Avada kedavra" is an Aramaic phrase that means "may the thing be destroyed."
Avis - Spell used by Mr. Ollivander to make birds fly out of Krum's wand.
"Avis" is Latin for "bird".
Azkaban - Dementor-guarded wizard prison
Similar to "Alkatraz", on which I believe Azkaban was based.
Bagman, Ludovic (Ludo) - head of the Ministry's Department of Magical Games and Sports. A bit short on cash.
"Ludo" is Latin for "to play, sport", but can also mean "to delude" or "to deceive". However, "Ludovic" could be an abreviated form of "victor ludorum", which means "winner of the games", and reflects his days back playing with the Wimbourne Wasps.

A "bagman" collects money for illegal gambling businesses and loan sharks. This goes way back to the early gangster/mob crime days in the United States. The bagman either collected the weekly bribe money from businessmen who were being "protected" (meaning exploited) by the big local crime boss; or he collected the profits from local illegal gambling establishments and delivered them to boss headquarters; or in some instances he was the person who held on to stolen goods until they could be disposed of, hence the phrase "he was left holding the bag" means someone who was caught doing something wrong while his cohorts excaped scot-free.

Banshee - Seamus' boggart; Bandon Banshee banished by a harelipped witch (Lockhart took credit)
Crying spirits or fairies whose scream announced immanent death. She has long streaming hair and is dressed in a gray cloak over a green dress. Her eyes are fiery red from the constant weeping. (compare with Celtic "Cyhiraeth", North Munster "Aiobhill", and South Munster "Cliodna", Scotland "Bean Nighe", Ireland "Bean Sidhe", Germany "Bozaloshtsh")
Beauxbatons - French wizarding school, led by half-giant headmistress Olympe Maxime.
"Beaux": handsome [French] + "batons": sticks [French]. Together, "handsome sticks", which is close enough to "handsome wands". "Handsome wands" would be Beauxbaguettes, which sounds like a French pastry.

Just an amusing addition: "I believe that the locations of the greatest wizarding schools is less related to the current location of Muggle national borders than to the location of said Muggle borders 1000 years ago when the schools were founded. Okay, I really am thinking less than 1000 years when I suggest Beauxbatons as the school of the Bourbon Empire, and Mme. Maxime telling Dumbledore that her giant flying horses only drink single-malt whisky is a pun on Bourbon whisky." (Rita Winston)

Bezoar - a stone taken from the stomach of a goat which will save one from most poisons. Used in many antidotes.
Brooks informs me that bezoars are real and have indeed been reputed in folklore to be a proof against poison.
Bludger - Quidditch ball that tries to knock people off their brooms.
"Bludger" is a word from Australian slang, meaning a goldbricker (that's an old US Army term) - someone who hangs around and appears to be working but is not pulling his/her weight - a do-nothing. It was one of the "Aussie words of the day" in the Olympics. Thanks to Brooks from HP4GU! Also, "bludgeon" means "to hit, usually with a large, blunt object, like a club". That's what bludgers do!
Bode - member of the Ministry's Department of Mysteries.
A "bode" is a warning or omen.
Boggart - Shapeshifter that takes the form of your greatest fear.
Household spirits from the north of England. The dark and hairy boggarts are dressed in tattered clothes, with meddling hands and clumsy feet. The presence of a boggart is betrayed by the unusual number of small accidents and strange noises after dark. They tip over milk bottles, frighten cats, pinch little children, blow out candles, and cause many other mishaps. (From Encyclopedia Mythica)
Brown, Lavender - Gryffindor interested in Divination.
"Lavender" and "Brown" are colors (duh).
Bubotuber - plant whose pus is used for medicinal purposes, mainly to cure acne, but is dangerous when undiluted.
"Bubo" is an inflamed swelling of a lymph node. A "tuber" is a swolen, underground stem.
Chang, Cho - Ravenclaw seeker. Harry has a rather large crush on her. [Former] girlfriend to Cedric Diggory.
"Cho" is Japanese for "very, extremely". "Chang", when used as a first name, can signify a person that is quick thinking and to the point. Therefore Cho Chang is "very quick thinking", quite appropriate for a Ravenclaw. Additionally, Haruka informs me that "Cho Cho" is Japanese for "butterfly".
Chocolate Frog - wizard candy that comes with a famous wizard card
Probably taken from the Monty Python "Crunchy Frog" sketch.
Conjunctivitis Curse - a spell that injures the eyes of the victim (Krum used this on the Chinese Fireball, Sirius suggested this for the Horntail)
"Conjunctivitis" is the scientific name for pinkeye, the inflamation of a mucous membrane lining the inner surface of the eyeball.
Crabbe, Vincent - one of Draco Malfoy's goons
If you switch the first letters of Crabbe and Goyle, you get "grab" and "coil", which is what a snake does to its prey. However, according to Inna Dykman, Crabbe could have been named along the same lines as McGonagall: after a poet. British poet George Crabbe is known for the two poems "The Village" and "His Mother's Wedding Ring".
Cruciatus curse - the victim experiences extreme pain. One of the unforgiveable curses, used in torture.
"Crucio", which is the spell word, is Latin for "to torture".
Delacour, Fleur - Triwizard champion of Beauxbatons, part Veela.
Her name separates into "Fleur De La Cour", which means in French "Flower of the Court", or noblewoman. (from AOL chat with J.K. Rowling)
Deletrius - used in the banishing spell
"Deletum" is Latin for to destroy, wipe out, or erase.
Densaugeo - curse to make your victim's front teeth grow
"Dens" is Latin for "teeth". "Augeo" is Latin for "to enlarge".
Diagon Alley - Home to many wizarding shops.
Just as Knockturn Alley becomes "Nocturnally" (Knockturnally) when you put the two words together, Diagon alley becomes "Diagonally". According to Gretchen, "Diagon Alley" is actually "diagonal ley." A ley line is a line connecting ancient sites of Britain and was thought to have magical powers.

Re: Ley Lines: "Briefly, the idea, first propounded by Alfred Watkins, a Herefordshire amateur archaeologist in the early 1920's, holds that the early inhabitants of Britain deliberately placed mounds, camps and standing stones across the landscape in straight lines. As time went by later structures were added to these sites. Some Roman roads followed the leys, Christian churches were built on what had been ley markers in order to take advantage of the age and sanctity already attached to them, and the keeps of mediaeval castles were sited on mounds that had marked leys millennia before. As a result it is still possible to trace these alignments on maps." --Sister Mary Lunatic

Diffindo - causes Cedric's bag to rip open
"Diffundo" is Latin for "scatter" or "pour forth", which is what happened to the stuff in Cedric's bag.
Diggory, Cedric - popular Hufflepuff quidditch captain and seeker, as well as Hogwarts Triwizard Champion. Murdered by Wormtail on Lord Voldemort's order.
This is a definite stretch, but in "Ivanhoe", Cedric is the owner of the hall where a large competition takes place. He and a woman named Rowena are later captured and held captive in Torquilstone.
"Diggory" is possibly a nod to C.S. Lewis. In the seventh Narnia book, The Magician's Nephew, one of the main characters is a boy named Digory Kirke. The following description is from Narnia.com: "...Digory has a firm sense of right and wrong and is a very good friend to have when the going gets tough. However, he is also very strongwilled..."
There was a very creepy parallel brought to my attention by Rosemary on HP4GU. In chapter 15 of Philosopher's Stone, Ronan says "Always the innocent are the first victims". At the time, we thought he was referring to the unicorn, but is it possible that he was referring to a certain boy with unicorn tail hair in his wand? The "innocent first victim" is none other than Cedric Diggory.
Divination - fortune-telling class
The art of act of fortelling future events or revealing knowlege by means of augury (a sign or omen) or alleged supernatural agency.
Dobby - House elf. Worked for the Malfoys before being freed by Harry Potter. Now works (for money!) in the kitchens of Hogwarts.
A "Dobby" is an alternate name for a Brownie in parts of Yorkshire and Lancashire. For detail about brownies, see the entry for House Elf.
Dr. Filibuster's Fabulous No-Heat Wet-Start Fireworks
I have no idea how this relates, but a filibuster is an obstructionist tactic, especially prolonged speechmaking, used to delay legislative action. It's possible that these fireworks that last so long could be linked to a really long speech. A bit of a stretch, in my opinion. Filibuster was also an adventurer engaged in private warfare abroad. From "filibustero", which is Spanish for "freebooter" (pirate/plunderer).
Dumbledore, Albus - Headmaster at Hogwarts.
"Albus" means "white" in Latin. I assume this is so because he's sort-of the leader of the "light" side. Go figure.
"Dumbledore" is an English word for "bumblebee". According to Kate C., J.K. Rowling says that it "seemed to suit the headmaster, because one of his passions is music and I imagined him walking around humming to himself."
Durmstrang - another European wizarding school, probably in Norway, Finland, Sweden, or the European part of Russia. Formerly run by death eater Igor Karkaroff, it places emphasis on the dark arts.
Probably a spoonerism of "sturm und drang", which in German means "storm and stress". Sturm und Drang was a German literary movement in 1765-85 that arose in reaction to traditional authority and the prevailing formality of literary style.

Durmstrang is probably in Latvia (which is in Europe and was in the former USSR) and its language of instruction is German: for a couple of centuries, there were a LOT of Germans living in Latvia. The students whose first language is something Slavic wouldn't be any worse off than all medieval students whose schools taught in Latin! (from Rita on HP4GU)

Dudley Dursley - Harry's bullying cousin
According to Encyclopedia Potterica, "Dudley" is a play on "dud", which is British slang for "a boring person". Dursley is a small town in Britain.
Dursley, Petunia Evans - Harry's maternal aunt.
Both Petunia and her sister, Lily, are named after flowers. The petunia symbolizes anger and resentment. Compare with the lily, which symbolizes purity and innocence. "Dursley" is a small town in Britain.
Enervate - "reawakens" someone who has been stunned
Curiously, the word "enervate" means to "weaken or destroy the strength or vitality of", which is the opposite of the spell's effect.
Engorgement Charm - a spell which causes things to grow larger.
To "engorge" is to fill to excess.
Expecto Patronum - Defense against dementors.
Patronus means protector, so "expecto patronum" means to expect a protector.
Expelliarmus - Disarming charm
Combination of "expel" (to force or drive out; eject forcefully) and "arma" (weapons [Latin]).
Fawcett (Miss) - Hufflepuff mentioned in the Dueling club. Also mentioned in GoF as one of the students to unsuccessfully cross the age line, and necking with a Ravenclaw named Stebbins at the Yule Ball.
Because she ended up with a bloody nose in the dueling club, her name could be a play on "faucet".
Fawkes - Dumbledore's loyal pet phoenix.
Guy Fawkes (1570-1606) was English conspirator. He became implicated with Thomas Winter and others in the Gunpowder Plot to blow up Parliament as a protest against the anti-Roman Catholic laws. On the night of November 4-5, 1605, he was caught in a cellar underneath the House of Lords and arrested. Guy Fawkes Day is celebrated on November 5 in the United Kingdom and some other parts of the British Commonwealth with bonfires and fireworks. A celebration with bonfires is rather appropriate for a Phoenix, who burns up every few hundred years. (Thanks to Julie on the Amazon.com HP message boards for making the connection!) The full story: The Gunpowder Plot.

Unrelated, but the Sci-Fi Channel's "Invisible Man" is named Darien Fawkes. It's a great show. Watch it some time.

Filch, Argus - Bad-tempered squib caretaker at Hogwarts.
"Argus" is a hundred-eyed giant (also called Panoptes, Greek for "the all-seeing") employed by Hera to guard Io, one of Zeus' lovers turned into a cow. He was lulled to sleep, then killed by Hermes (Greek mythology).

"Filch" is a verb that means "to steal". Ex: With cunning thou hast filched my daughter's heart. --Egeus, Midsummer Night's Dream

Filibuster Fireworks - See "Dr. Filibuster's Fabulous No-Heat Wet-Start Fireworks"

Fleur Delacour - See "Delacour, Fleur"

Flitwick (Professor) - Charms teacher

"Flitwick" is a city near London.
Floo Powder - used by wizards to travel by fire
A "flue" is a pipe, tube, or channel for conveying hot steam or smoke (like a chimney).
Fudge, Cornelius - bumbling Minister of Magic
There was a pope named Saint Cornelius, whose reign was marked by the controversy over the lapsed (those under persecution who had renounced Christianity). Cornelius's leniency toward the lapsed drew the support of the bishop of Carthage, St. Cyprian, but aroused the opposition of the Roman priest Novatian. He was exiled, then martyred in 253, where he was succeeded by bishop Saint Lucius. (that's worth a shiver up your spine!)

"Fudge" can mean "to evade or dodge". Now that we see Fudge's true character, we realize that he refuses to accept that Voldemort has returned.

Furnunculus - curse that creates boils on the victim's body
Possibly derived from "furuncle", which is a type of boil.
Galleons - gold coin worth 17 sickles or 493 knuts.
15th-century sailing ship with rectangular sails on the middlemast, foremast, and rear mizzenmast. They were often used for trade between China and Mexico. (Thanks to Encarta Encyclopedia).
Goyle, Gregory - one of Draco Malfoy's goons
If you switch the first letters of Crabbe and Goyle, you get "grab" and "coil", which is what a snake does to its prey. Also, "Greg Goyle" sounds similar to gargoyle, which are ferocious-looking stone guardians of castles and cathedrals, similar to how Goyle is one of Malfoy's bodyguards.
Granger, Hermione - Bookish friend of Harry and Ron.
There are several famous women named Hermione, but J.K. named her after a character in the Shakespearean tragedy "The Winter's Tale", probably written in 1611. The first three acts deal with the jealousy of King Leontes and his persecution of his queen, Hermione. His passion brings about her supposed death and the abandonment of her infant daughter. The fourth act, set 16 years later, relates the courtship of this daughter, Perdita, by Prince Florizel of Bohemia, and the flight of the young couple to the kingdom of Leontes. There, in the last act, Perdita is recognized as Leontes's lost child. To make his happiness complete, a statue of his queen comes to life, and Hermione herself forgives him and embraces Perdita.

In Farenhiet 451, there is a man named Granger, who has a photographic memory that he uses only for memorizing books. Candice informs me that "Granger" is the first name of a character in a book called "Frindle". Miss Granger is a prim and proper person, who always forces people to obey the rules and play by them.

On a complete tangent, Trina on HP4GU informs me that one of Santa's elves in "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer" is named "Hermie", who wants to be a dentist rather than help the Jolly Old Elf make toys...(And Hermione's folks are both dentists).

Gringots - Wizard bank run by Goblins.
"Gringots" is an angram of "g storing". Possibly "galleon storing" or "gold storing".
Gryffindor - one of the four Hogwarts houses; noted for bravery. Named for Godric Gryffindor.
This definition comes from Steve Vander Ark of Harry Potter Lexicon. Gryffindor comes from French "gryffin d'or", which means "golden griffin". Griffins are half-lion, half-eagle. Griffins are a symbol of the dual nature (divine and human) of Jesus Christ, precisely because of its mastery of earth and sky. The solar associations of both the lion and the eagle favored this positive reading. The griffin thus also became the adversary of serpents and basilisks, both of which were seen as embodiments of satanic demons." - Paraphrased from Dictionary of Symbolism: Gryphon.
Hagrid, Rubeus - Half-giant gamekeeper and Care of Magical Creatures teacher at Hogwarts.
Ms. Rowling says that if you were "Hagrid" in old English you were having a bad night. She says that Hagrid is a big drinker and often has his own bad nights. (thanks to Kate C. for pointing this out).
"Rubeus" can mean "red" or "jewel". I'm not sure of its accuracy, but according to Greg Siverling, it can also mean harsh, alarming, or scary.
Harry James Potter - If you need a definition, I'm surprised you're here.
J.K. had a best friend as a child named Ian Potter. Heather informs me that the reason for the name "Harry" is that it has always been J.K.'s favourite boys name. She says if she had had a son, she would have called him Harry. This made it a natural choice for her. She also said if she HAD had a son called Harry, our favourite wizarding child would have been renamed to protect her child's privacy.

An amusing "Harry" reference: "It was a day like any other and Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Brainsample were a perfectly ordinary couple, leading perfectly ordinary lives--the sort of people to whom nothing extraordinary ever happened, and not the kind of people to be the center of one the most astounding incidents in the history of mankind...so let's forget about them and follow instead the destiny of this man (camera pans to businessman in bowler hat and pinstripe suit)...Harold Potter, gardener and tax official, first victim of Creatures from Another Planet,"--Narrator, MONTY PYTHON'S FLYING CIRCUS

Hedwig - Harry's pet owl
A 12th century German saint. She was very pious, noble, virtuous, good to the poor (to whom she gave most of her money), served the lepers, who lived a life of austerity even after she married the ruler of Silesia and Poland (Henry the Bearded). She entered a convent one she had founded at Trebnitz) after the death of her husband. A cathedral was built to Saint Hedwig in Germany in the mid-1700's. Thanks to Kelly on the Amazon.com HP message boards for the more in-depth info!
Hermione Granger - See "Granger, Hermione"

Hippogriff - One of Hagrid's "pets", used in Care of Magical Creatures.

A legendary animal, with the hindquarters of a horse and the head, beak and wings of an eagle. The hippogriff is often found in ancient Greek art and appeared largely in medieval legends. It is also a symbol of love. Hippogriff at Encyclopedia Mythica, Picture 1, Picture 2.
Hogwarts - British wizarding school
"Hogwart" is a type of lily. It's also "warthogs" switched around.
Holly - wood used in Harry's wand (compare with Yew, the wood in Voldemort's wand)
According to Rita on HP4GU: While holly has much more life-oriented associations. It is a symbol of Christmas, which is not only the birth of their Savior for Christians, but the time when the amount of sunlight in the day starts to lengthen. Holly, ivy, and pine got that Christmas gig because, as evergreens, they are among the few plants still green and visibly alive in the snow. My friend showed me a medieval Tristan and Iseult tale in which King Mark makes a compromise with Tristan: one will have her when the trees are green and the other will have her when the trees are bare. King Mark chooses when the trees are bare, since then the nights are longer, more time for bed fun with his reluctant wife, but Tristan triumphantly points out that Mark NEVER gets her, since the holly and the ivy are NEVER bare.
House Elf - magical creatures used as servants for wealthy wizard families. They can only be freed if their master gives the elf clothing.
Comparable to the Fenoderee or Brownie. The Fenoderee is not very intelligent, but he is a hard worker who performed labor for the farmers of the Isle of Man. He goes around naked, for the offer of clothes will greatly offend him, causing him to stop working. He was originally very handsome, but after making the mistake of wooing a mortal girl, he was punished and lost his good looks. He turned into the ugly, solitary creature he is now. (thanks to Kat Nicholson for the tip!) Brownies are good-natured, invisible brown elves or household goblins who live in farmhouses and other country dwellings in Scotland. While people are asleep, they perform their labors for them. If offered payment for their services or if they are treated badly, they disappear and are never seen again. Supposedly, a "Dobby" is a brownie that can't do anything right.
Howler - a letter that shouts its message and explodes if unopened. Used as punishment.
To howl is to cry or wail loudly. Also, a "howler" is slang for "a laughably stupid blunder".
Impedimenta - used for obstructing persuers
"Impedio" is Latin for "to hinder".
Imperius curse - gives a wizard complete control over his/her victim
"Impero" is Latin for "to command", and "imperium" is Latin for "absolute rule".
Karkaroff, Igor - Headmaster of Durmstrang; former death eater
This was probably taken from "Frankenstein". Igor is the name of Dr. Frankenstein's assistant, and Boris Karloff (which is similar to "Karkaroff") is the actor who plays the monster.
Krum, Viktor - Bulgarian seeker and Durmstrang triwizard champion. Close ::cough:: friend to Hermy-own-ninny...
"Viktor" is phonetically the same as "victor", and he defeated Lynch in terms of catching the snitch.
According to A Harry Potter Fansite, "Krumm" is a German adjective used in phrases such as "dont slouch" and "sit up straight", and literally means "crooked" or "bent".
Lumos - spell to send a beam of light from the end of a wand, like a torch (flashlight). The counterspell is "Nox".
"Lumen" is Latin for "light", and "luminous" can mean "giving off light".
Madame Maxime - See "Maxime, Madame Olympe"

Madam Pomfrey - See "Pomfrey, Poppy (Madam)"

Madam Rosmerta - See "Rosmerta (Madam)"

Mad-Eye Moody - See "Moody, Alastor"

Malfoy, Draco - Slytherin rival of Harry, Ron, and Hermione.

"Draco" means "dragon" in Latin. Also, Draco was the name of a cruel Athenian lawmaker. His harsh legal code punished both trivial and serious crimes with death. From this we get our expression "draconian laws", meaning unnecessarily harsh laws.
"Mal foi" means "bad faith" in French.
Malfoy, Lucius - Draco Malfoy's father. Death eater.
The name "Lucius" might be a nod to "Lucifer", the devil. More likely, however, is the connection with Saint Lucius, who succeeded Saint Cornelius as pope. Will Lucius Malfoy become the next Minister of Magic? Only time will tell. Another interesting connection is that both Draco and Lucius (another Lucius, not the pope!) were overly harsh Roman lawmakers.
Again, "Mal foi" is French for "bad faith".
Malfoy, Narcissa - self-absorbed mother of Draco Malfoy.
Narcissus was the son of the river god Cephissus and the nymph Liriope. Tiresias, the seer, told his parents that the child "would live to an old age if it did not look at itself." Many nymphs and girls fell in love with him but he rejected them. The goddess Nemesis heard the rejected girls prayers for vengeance and arranged for Narcissus to fall in love with his own reflection. He stayed watching his reflection and let himself die. This gives the origin of the narcissus flower, which grew where he died. (Paraphrased from Encyclopedia Mythica)
Maxime, Madame Olympe - Half-giant headmistress at Beauxbatons.
"Olympian" can mean "surpassing all others in scope". Mount Olympus is the largest mountain in Greece, and supposedly the home of the gods.
"Maxima" is Latin for "greatest". "Maxima" is Latin for "greatest". There's also a bilingual pun in her name. "Maxime" is French for "principle", and Madame Maxime is the "principal" of Beauxbatons.
McGonagall, Minerva - strict leader of Gryffindor house and assistant Headmistress at Hogwarts.
Minerva is the Roman goddess of wisdom, medicine, the arts, dyeing, science and trade, and war. As Minerva Medica she is the patroness of physicians. Minerva is believed to be the inventor of numbers and musical instruments. She was equated with the Greek Athena. (From Encyclopedia Mythica). Picture.
"McGonagall" is named after William Topaz McGonagall, widely held as the worst poet in the English language.
Moaning Myrtle - Ghost that haunts the girl's toilet. Killed by a basilisk.
Rachel on harrypotteranonymous says "The Myrtle plants are a kind of tree. They are often called Crepe Myrtle because their flowers are wrinkled like crepe paper. There is one species of it, Eugenia Ventenatii, or Weeping Myrtle, called so because its branches hang so much. Steve Vander Ark continues: Okay, so maybe JKR researched the myrtle plant to that extent. Another perfectly reasonable explanation, however, is that Moaning Myrtle is simply a play on words, paralleling "weeping willow."
Moody, Alastor "Mad Eye" - slightly mad ex-Auror, DAtDA teacher during Harry's 4th year.
"Alastor" means "avenger". In Greek mythology, Alastor is an avenging demon, associated with blood feuds between families, and the Greek term for an avenging power that visits the sins of the fathers on their children. It is also an evil genius of a house that leads a man to commit crimes and sin. He was originally a mortal, the son of Neleus, king of Pylos. He became a (minor) demon when he and his brothers were slain by Heracles. (Encyclopedia Mythica)
According to Fallen Angels...and Spirits of the Dark, "Alastor" was the name of a demon that executed court decrees in Hell, which is rather appropriate in comparison with Mad-Eye, since he could be seen carrying out Ministry decrees by capturing Death Eaters. (Thanks to CobraGirl)
"Moody" means "given to changeable moods; temperamental".
Morsmodre - conjures the Dark Mark: a skull with a serpent protruding from its mouth
A combination of "Mors" (Latin for "death") and "modere" (Latin for "to bite"). Therefore, "death eaters".
Mrs. Norris - Filch's cat
According to Kate C., Mrs. Norris was named after a nosy preacher's wife in Jane Austen's Mansfield Park.
Muggle - someone without wizarding talent
J.K. Rowling derived it from "mug", a British slang word for "fool". However, unbeknownst to J.K., it has been used several times before; the most noteworthy being a slang term for marijuana. You can check out some of the other "muggle sightings" at the UHPFC.
Nagini - Voldemort's "pet" snake
According to Rita Winston, "Nagini" is the female form of "Naga"; an interesting supplement to my previous suspicion that "Nagini" could be based on "Naga". The "Naga" are a group of half-human and half-snake deities that live in Malysia and India. They had the power to turn humans invisible in water and would often marry mortals. Vishnu slept on a Naga when creating the world, and it was said that the Nagas would ultimately destroy the world with fire.
Nearly-Headless Nick (Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington) - resident ghost of Gryffindor tower, who died from near-beheading.
The "Nick" part of his name is probably in reference to his botched beheading. (A "nick" is a shallow cut) Mimsy is a word coined by Lewis Carrol in "Through the Looking-Glass" for the poem "Jabberwocky". It's a combination of "miserable" and "flimsy".
N.E.W.T.s - "Nearly Exhausting Wizarding Tests", a standardized test for wizards.
Equivalent to the British A-levels and the American SAT.
Nox - "turns off" the beam of light from a wand from the "lumos" spell
"Nox" is Latin for "darkness" or "night".
Orchideous - Spell to create a bunch of flowers at the wandtip.
"Orchid" is the common name for a family comprising one of the largest groups of flowering plants.
Oł est Madame Maxime? Nous l'avons perdue. - overheard at the Quidditch World Cup during the Death Eaters' attack
Translates from French to mean "Where is Madame Maxime? We've lost her."
O.W.L.s - "Ordinary Wizarding Levels", a standardized test for wizards.
Equivalent to the British O-levels and the American PSAT.
Padfoot - Sirius Black's "marauder" nickname.
The padfoot is supposed to be similar to a werewolf. It's a giant, black, wolf-dog that lived mostly in the southeast areas of England.
Patil, Padma - Identical twin sister of Parvati Patil. Ravenclaw. Ron's date at the Yule Ball.
Padma (Ganga) is the Hindu goddess of the Ganges, India's most sacred river. She is the sister of the mountain goddess Parvati. Thanks to Cupcake for telling me that "Padma" also means "lotus". In fact, the highest cultural honor in India is called "Padma Bhushan", which translates to "Order of the Lotus".
"Patel" is a fairly common Indian last name.
Patil, Parvati - Gryffindor interested in Divination. Sister of Padma Patil.
There's a Hindu mountain-goddess named Parvati. She is the sister of the goddess of the Ganges river, Padma.
"Patel" is a fairly common Indian last name.
Patronus - Defense against dementors.
Patronus is Latin for "protector".
Pensieve - used for storing excess thoughts
A combination of "pensive", which means deeply thoughtful; and "sieve", which is a utensil of wire mesh or closely perforated metal used for straining, sifting, or pureeing.
Pettigrew, Peter - former friend of James, Sirius, and Remus. Rat animagus.
His last name breaks up into "Pet-I-Grew", referring to the time lived as Ron and Percy's pet.
Phoenix - Dumbledore's loyal pet.
The phoenix was a legendary bird thought to live near a well in Arabia. It's song was thought to be so beautiful, that even the sun god would stop to listen. Only one phoenix could exist at a time, and they lived from between 500 to 1500 years. When it thought death was near, it would build a fire and throw itsself into the flames. A new phoenix would be born from the flames, who would embalm the old phoenix in an egg of myrrh and bring it to Heliopolis, the temple of the sun. The phoenix represented the sun, which dies at night and is reborn in the morning. A symbol of immortality and resurrection. (Egyptian and Greek mythology, also mentioned in early Christianity). Phoenix at Eliki, Phoenix at Encyclopedia Mythica, Phoenix at Bulfinch's Mythology, Picture 1, Picture 2
Pomfrey, Poppy - Hogwarts matron (nurse)
The poppy is one of the oldest medicinal plants. (Thanks to Jenna). I have long joked about the similarity between "Pomfrey" and "Pomme frites", which is French for "french fries". No, I'm sure J.K. wasn't thinking of french fries when she was naming characters.
Potter, Lily Evans - Harry's mother
Both Lily and her sister, Petunia, are named after flowers. The lily symbolizes purity and innocence. Compare with the petunia, which symbolizes anger and resentment.

I've gotten several emails asking if "Evans" is Lily's real maiden name, and the answer is yes. J.K. Rowling revealed this information in a recent online chat.

Pringle, Apollyon - Hogwarts caretaker in Molly and Arthur Weasley's day
Well, I'm certainly amused. And we thought *Filch* was bad! Apollyon is a nickname for the Devil in Rev.9:11.
According to Steve Vander Ark, the Pringle family were a bunch of self-righteous snobs in Anne of Green Gables.
Priori Incantatem - used to reveal the most recent spells performed with a specific wand
"Prior" means "preceeding". An incantation is a charm or spell. (similar to Finite Incantatem)
Privet Drive - Home to the Dursleys
A privet is a shrub having opposite leaves and clusters of white flowers, widely used for hedges.
Quidditch - popular wizard sport played on broomsticks
Elvira points out that "Quidditch" is a combination of the three balls used in the game. (Qu)affle + Blu(d)ger + Sn(itch).
Quietus - Reverses "Sonorus" spell
"Quiet" means "making little or no noise". The disturbing thing is that "quietus" in Latin means "death".
Reducio - counteracts an enlargement charm
"Reduce" means "to bring down in extent, amount or degree; diminish", and comes from Latin "reducere", which means "to bring back; return".
Reductor Curse - blasts solid objects out of one's path
"Reducere" is Latin for "to bring back".
Relashio - sends sparks at an opponent
"Rel-" (release) + "ash" (powdery residue of fire)
Riddle, Tom Marvolo (Jr.) - birth name of Lord Voldemort.
As he himself points out, "Tom Marvolo Riddle" is an angram of "I am Lord Voldemort". You didn't think Jo could get away with naming a guy "Riddle" without there being something fishy going on!
Riddikulus - transforms a Boggart into a new form comical in appearance
"Ridiculous" means "absurd".
Ron Weasley - See "Weasley, Ron"

Rosmerta, Madam - Owner of The Three Broomsticks

"Rosmerta" is a Gaullish goddess and whose Celtic name means 'Abundant Provider', which is pretty accurate for the hostess of a bar/restaurant. (Thanks to Rita Winston)
Skeeter, Rita - tabloid reporter for Witch Weekly and The Daily Prophet. Unregistered beetle animagus.
Her title, Miss Skeeter, sounds an awful lot like "mosquito", which also happen to be bloodsucking little insect pests that go out of their way to make us suffer.
Salazar Slytherin - creator of the "pureblood" mentality; one of four Hogwarts founders
Antonio Salazar was the fascist dictator of Portugal for 36 years until his death in 1968. Though never officially an ethnic cleanser, he was a colonialist, who ruthlessly put down ethnic uprisings his his country's colonies in Africa. His name is perhaps used as a reference to the dictators past, such as Hitler, who believed in ethnic purity, just as Slytherin did. (Taken directly from Encyclopedia Potterica)

"Slytherin" is basically "slithering" minus the "g", and the snake is the symbol for Slytherin house. He himself is nicknamed "Serpent-Tongue" after his parselmouth abilities.

Shunpike, Stan - conductor of the Knight Bus
A "shunpike" is a side road used to avoid the toll on or the speed and traffic of a superhighway. (Thanks to Steve Vander Ark)
Snape, Severus - Potions teacher and head of Slytherin house. Rival of James, Remus, Sirius, and Peter.
"Severus" is Latin for "stern" or "harsh". There was a Roman emperor named Lucius Severus. Supposedly, Jo made the Potions master the "enemy" because she didn't like a Chemistry teacher she once had.
"Snape" is a small town Jo once visited. According to Blaise and the OED: I was delighted to find that the word "snape" actually has a meaning beyond simply being a place-name (in that context it means a boggy patch of ground). To snape someone means to rebuke or hurt them, and a snape is a rebuke. It's an almost obsolete English dialectical word from the Norse, if anyone cares.
Sonorus - Spell used to magnify one's voice
"Sono" is Latin for "to make a sound".
Spellotape - wizards' tape used to mend broken items
A spoof on "Sellotape", the British equivalent of scotch tape.
Sprout (Professor) - Herbology teacher at Hogwarts.
A sprout is a type of plant.
Squib - A person born to wizard parents, but has no wizarding talent.
A "Squib" is a term used in cinematography for a device that makes it appear as if someone has been shot. For a better example, watch "Mickey Blue Eyes". You'll see what I'm talking about. A "Squib" can also be a small firecracker that doesn't explode.
Stupefy - stunning spell
"Stupere" is Latin for "to be stunned". "Stupefy" in English means "to dull the senses of; daze".
Surrey - Home of the Dursleys
A county in the southeast of England, adjoining the county of Greater London. The city of Little Whinging is fictional, though.
Trelawney, Sibyl - crackpot divination professor
"Sibyl", in Greek and Roman mythology, was any woman inspired with prophetic power by the god Apollo. The sibyls lived in caves or near streams and prophesied in a frenzied trance, usually in Greek hexameters, which were handed down in writing. Prophesizing in a trance? Sounds like Trelawney!

"Trelawney" may come from Sir Arthur Wing Pinero's well-known play "Trelawney of the "Wells" (1898), about life in a theatrical company. Pinero is a British author, and J.K. tends to get a lot of names from famous British people. Jenna theorizes that she could be named for Trelawney, hero of a Cornish poem called 'And Shall Trelawney Die?'. This is perhaps a reference to her custom of telling one student a year he will die before its end.

Voicelady on HP4GU informs me that there is a witch in Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass named Trelawney! Does anyone see any connections? It's been a long time since I read that book.

Veela - Bulgarian quidditch mascot.
"Vila" are Eastern Slavonic wind and storm spirits, capable of calling forth whirlwinds, hailstorms and rain. Depending on their habitats, people speak of land, water, wood and cloud vilas. These female spirits appear in the form of a swan, horse or wolf or, if in human form, as beautiful women, winged and with long hair. They posses eternal youth and are usually friendly towards humans. In Slovakia they are the souls of deceased girls. (From Encyclopedia Mythica)

Martha on HP4GU provided a similar definition: Veela are ghosts of unbaptised women or virgins that are doomed to remain on earth. They often dance in circles and any human who sees them will be forced to join the circle, dancing to his death.

Veritaserum - truth potion
"Veritas" is Latin for "truth". A serum is a potion.
Voldemort - Dark wizard
In French, "Vole de mort" means "flight of Death" or "flight from death" (which I think more accurately represents him), with some hint of also meaning "theft of death". A famous pun on the French word 'vol' was when Napoleon confiscated the estates of surviving nobles of the pre-Revolutionary regime. One of the guys whose estate was confiscated said: "C'est le premier vol de l'aigle', which normally means 'it is the first flight of the eagle' but in this case 'vol' was to be understood as 'theft'. (extended info provided by Rita on eGroups). According to Aberforth's Goat on HP4GU, the "Vol" could be connected to the Latinate "volo" (to wish), meaning "wish of death" or "Death wish".
Weasley, Arthur - father of the Weasley family
According to Ivy (no link available), "Arthur is a possible reference to King Arthur. The World Book says, 'There are two versions of the events that led to Arthur's death. Both say he fought a war against Roman emporer Lucius.'" Interesting...
Weasley, Ron - Redhead friend of Harry and Hermione, former owner of "Scabbers".
In Arthurian legend, "Ron" is the name of King Arthur's trusty spear. (No, I don't buy into the whole "Running Weasel" theory, thank you very much.)
Weasley, Percy - straight-laced, ambitious, former Head Boy, and fellow Weasley.
According to Positively Percy! , "Percival" was a name reserved only for the upper class of Britain in the days of the Monarchy. Later, the British commoners were allowed to use a version of this name (previously, they would have been punished). This variant was "Percy"; Percival itsself still off-limits. By being named "Percy", the name plays off our Percy's family roots as a "poor commoner".
Weasley's Wizard Wheezes - Fred and George's future joke shop
Acording to Vivienne on HP4GU, a "wheeze" (noun colloq. British) is "a clever scheme" or, according to Encarta, "wheeze" is slang for "an old joke". I think that's far more applicable than "to breathe with difficulty, producing a hoarse whistling sound".
Weird Sisters - a famous wizarding music group
"Wyrd Sisters" is the first Terry Pratchet book with the Lancre Witches: Magrat Garlick, Nanny Ogg, and Granny Weatherwax. Also known as "The maiden, the mother, and the... er... other one." This doesn't really have any significance, but I just felt like sharing. However, Anna informs me that the 3 witches in Macbeth are usualy called "weird sisters", and some writers use the term "weird sisters" for the three Fates, women that spin threads of life in Greek and Roman mythology.
Wood, Oliver - former Gryffindor Quidditch captain
Like Marcus Flint (Slytherin captain), his last names is a raw material. Additionally, according to Christa Sligar, "Wood" is an old English word for mad or crazy, a form of "wode" which is used in that context in A Midsummer Night's Dream. Wood is fairly Quidditch-obsessed, so it applies rather well.
Wormtail - Pettigrew's nickname at Hogwarts, and now his "official" death eater nickname.
Many Tolkien fans on HP4GU point out that there may be a connection between "Wormtail" and Lord of the Rings' "Wormtongue", Theoden's corrupt advisor, who joined Sauruman.
Yew - wood used in Lord Voldemort's wand
Yew is the tree of death, depicted on Victorian mourning cameos showing a woman weeping at a gravestone next to a tree. Yew berries are poisonous, and yew wood is the natural composite that made the English longbow so deadly, and TEX AND MOLLY IN THE AFTERLIFE says that yews are planted in graveyards because they 'thrive on corruption' i.e. eat rotting corpses. (Thanks to Rita on HP4GU!)
Zonko's - Hogsmeade's famous joke shop
I'm not sure about Britain, but in the U.S., "zonked out" can be slang for the condition of physical or mental exhaustion. Ex: "What I day! I'm pretty much zonked out."

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