A/N: This is what happens when you think reading a Latin dictionary is
fun. And when you purchase your favouite books in as many languages as
possible. Thanks to everyone who helped with this: language dictionaries,
French teacher mothers, reviewers at FF.net, people at Veritaserum, and
B the beta reader. Enjoy. :-)
Accio: The summoning charm. The Latin "accio" literally means
Aragog: "Ara" from "arachnid", or spider, and "gog" is Old English
for giant. So, a giant spider. Poor Ron.
Avada Kedavra: This is the incantation from which the modern
day "abrakadabra" is derived. It means "may the thing be destroyed." Also,
"cadaverous" in English means looking like a corpse or deathlike.
Avis: This spell was used by Mr Ollivander to make birds fly
out of Krum's wand. "Avis" is Latin for bird.
Bagman, Ludo: Ludo is Latin for "I play", which is where the game
Ludo comes from too. Bagman could mean gambler.
Basilisk: This is a real legend. It was first mentioned by Pliny
or someone equally important and Greek.
Beauxbatons: Literal translation: "good sticks". I think it would
be safer if we translated that as "good wands".
Black, Sirius: Sirius is the official name for the Dog Star, in
the constellation of Canis Major. And Black is (you guessed it!) a colour.
In fact it's the colour of the dog that Sirius turns into. Isn't JK clever?
Blast-Ended Skrewts: In German, Knallrumpfige Krote. No
umlauts on my computer, sorry. "Knallen" means "bang", "Rumpf" means "body",
and "Krote" means "toad". I quite like this. Bang-bodied toads.
Bludger: In German, Bludger is "Klatscher". "Klatschen" means
"swat." Odd translation...
Brown, Lavender: No point in mentioning her at all really, except
to ask the world in general: why are there so many flower names in HP?
Lavender, Petunia, Lily, Pansy Parkinson... it's very odd, and might have
some really obscure significance, but I don't know.
Chang, Cho: Cho means "butterfly" and "born at dawn" in Japenese.
However, I have been told that a Chinese derivative might be more appropriate,
as Chang is a very common Chinese last name. In Chinese, Cho could mean
Clearwater, Penelope: Translated into French as "Penelope Deauclaire."
Means the same.
Crookshanks: "Crooked shanks," ie - crooked legs. Same sort of
thing in French - he is called "Pattenrond" - "patte" means "paw" or "leg",
"rond" means "round."
Crucio (the Cruciatus Curse): Latin, "crucio" means "I torture,"
which is where we get the English word "excruciating."
Delacour, Fleur: Many people think that this means "flower of
the heart", but it doesn't! Heart would be "coeur". "Cour" is court, so
Fleur's full name means "flower of the court", like a noblewoman.
Dementor: Translated into French as "detraqueur" (acute accent
over the first e). A similar word is "detraquer" which means "to go wrong."
Diagon Alley: If you say this all as one word, it is "diagonally".
Alternatively, it could be "diagonal ley", referring to the ley lines
that are all over Britain, and indeed the rest of the world. A ley line
is a line which connects important sites of ancient religion (you know,
standing stones and things) and the lines are believed to have magical
powers. In the German edition, Diagon Alley is "Winkelgasse". "Winkelig"
means "full of corners", and "gasse" is just a word for "alley." In French,
the translation is "Chemin de Traverse" which means "diagonal street",
but is an expression meaning "shortcut."
Diggle, Dedalus: Dedalus was the very clever man in Greek mythology
who could talk to animals. He built the labyrinth for the Minotaur in
Crete. What this has to do with Dedalus Diggle, I have no idea.
Diggory, Amos: "Amos" means "troubled" apparantly, but I haven't
been able to find it anywhere.
Dobby: A dobby is a brownie who can't do anything right.
Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus (the Hogwarts motto): "Never
tickle a sleeping dragon." Good advice, if you ask me. Sometimes you see
it written as "numquam" instead, but I'm going by what's on the title
page of the British Book 4. It basically comes to the same thing.
Dumbledore, Albus: Albus is Latin for white, referring to his
hair or the fact that he is a good person. Dumbledore is a dialect word
for bumblebee that JK found in a Thomas Hardy novel.
Durmstrang: A play on words for "Sturm und Drang" (storm and stress).
This was a late-eighteenth-century German literary movement.
Dursley, Dudley: Dudley is a suburb of Birmingham in England.
Dursley is a small town outside Bristol, England.
Evans, Lily and Petunia: This is an odd idea of mine. There is
a BBC comedy series called "Keeping Up Appearances" with four sisters
all named after flowers: Hyacinth, Violet, Daisy and Rose. Hyacinth is
unbelievable snobby and house-proud and likes spying on the neighbours...
but none of them bear any resemblance at all to Lily, so never mind. Lily
is the flower connected with death, often used at funerals.
Expecto Patronum: "Expecto", more often spelled "exspecto", is
"I expect" in Latin, although interestingly it can also mean "I hope for"
or "I dread." "Patronus" in Latin is protector, and father and uncle are
also along the same sort of root.
Fang: In French, this has been translated as "Crockdur". This
is from "croque dur," meaning "bit hard".
Fawkes: Guy Fawkes was the man who was caught underneath the houses
of Parliament on November the 5th, 1605. He and some other men had been
planning to blow up the king and the House of Lords. Now, on Nov 5th,
we celebrate Bonfire Night, which is when we make a "guy" out of straw
and stuff and burn him on top of a bonfire. We also have fireworks and
things. So, for any non-British person who didn't know what "Bonfire Night"
was when it was mentioned in Book 1, there you have it! In French, Fawkes
is known as "Fumseck". This is from "fumme sec" which means "to smoke
Filch, Argus: Filch is slang for steal. Argus was the hundred-eyed
watchmen in Greek mythology, who was eventually bored to death by Hermes
(what will Percy's owl get up to in the future, I wonder?).
Finnigan, Seamus: Seamus is the Irish version of James... could
be a very interesting connection, there...
Flamel, Nicholas: Flamel was a real alchemist, believe it or not,
who died sometime in the 13th century (no one knows when he was born).
He really did work with the Philosopher's Stone and everything, and apparently
he was very rich. I'd just like to mention here that after seeing the
film, my mother said, "So... is Nearly Headless Nick really Nicholas Flamel?"
Fleet, Angus: A Muggle who saw Ron and Harry flying the Ford Anglia
to Hogwarts. This could be a clue to where Hogwarts is. Harry and Ron
flew from London, correct? Well, Fleet Street is in London, and Angus
is a county is Scotland. Hogwarts being in Scotland would make sense:
the main train line from King's Cross goes north through Peterborough,
Leeds, York, Newcastle, Edinburgh... and then up into the remoter parts
Flint, Marcus: The captain of the Slytherin Quidditch team. The
evil captain in Treasure Island is Captain Flint.
Flitwick, Professor: Flitwick is a town in Bedfordshire, England,
but not pronounced as it looks. I believe the "w" is silent.
Floo Powder: "Flue" is another word for chimney.
Fluffy: Rather reminiscent of Cerberus in Greek mythology. Cerberus
was a three-headed dog who guarded the entrance into the Underworld.
Galleon: A big ship, part of the Spanish Armada.
Granger, Hermione: Pronounciation is Her-my-oh-nee for anyone
unsure. The character of Hermione is based on JK herself as a child. I
found two Hermiones: the daughter of Helen of Troy and Menelaus, or the
queen in "A Winter's Tale" by Shakespeare. The Greek Hermione seems to
have a slight problem with her love life. I still don't quite understand
what went on there. She was engaged... and then she wasn't because she
had been stolen by someone else... and then she married the first one...
personally, I don't think our Hermione Granger would ever stand for it.
I like a friend's account of the proceedings: "Hermione was a Grecian
princess who was betrothed to some guy (lets call him Ron) But suddenly
was unbetrothed by some other guy (we'll call him Victor) and then betrothed
to Victor (sweetie stealin' goin' on). Anyway, Victor was found dead near
the Oracle of Delphi, and even though everyone suspected Ron, they hated
Victor so much that they didn't try him. Hermione then married Ron and
lived happily ever after." Hermione is the female version of Hermes, the
god of... well, he was the god of a lot of stuff. "Messangers, tradesemen,
theives, lawyers and all those who live by their wits" is the list I have.
Grey Lady: The Ravenclaw ghost. Lady Jane Grey was the queen of
England for nine days (?) before she was beheaded. Perhaps she then went
Grindylow: "Grindel" is an old word meaning fierce and wild, and
"low" is an old word for pond or water.
Gringotts: And "ingot" is a brick-shaped piece of gold or silver.
Gudgeon, Gladys: A Lockhart fan. "Gudgeon" means gullible, someone
who will swallow anything.
Hagrid, Rubeus: One early Greek god of jewels was Hagrid Rubeus,
meaning giant of... jewels, I guess. Apparently, Hagrid also means hungover.
Hedwig: The patron saint of orphaned children.
Hermes: The Greek god of messengers (among other things, see Hermione).
A very appropriate name for an owl.
Hinkypunks: "Hink" means doubt and "punk" is something used to
light small fires. Hinkypunks lead lost (doubtful) travellers through
swamps with lanterns (small fires).
Hogwarts: According to a recent interview with JK, Hogwarts is
in fact a type of lilly. She didn't actually know this when she wrote
the books, she had just filed the word subconciously.
Hufflepuff: Translated into French as "Poufsouffle". "Pouffer"
is "to burst out laughing", and "souffle" actually means "breath".
Imperio (the Imperius Curse): The English word "imperious" means
overbearing, forceful and dominating, just as the caster of the spell
is. The Latin "imperare" means "to command," or "to control" and, interestingly,
"to be emperor."
Jigger, Arsenius (author of "Magical Drafts and Potions"): "Arsenius"
is the root of "arsenic". Jigger is an old English measurement of liquid.
Kappa: A river demon in Shinto mythology.
Knockturn Alley: Same kind of thing as Diagon Alley, if you say
it as one word it is "nocturnally", ie -- dark.
Knut: An unimportant person.
Krum, Viktor: "Krumm" in German means crooked or bent. Khan Krum
ruled Bulgaria from 803- 814 AD.
Lockhart, Gilderoy: "Gilderoy" means "servant of the red-head".
Could this be a Weasley connection? And of course, to gild is to cover
a cheap metal with gold leaf to make it look valuable.
Lupin, Remus: 'Lupus' is Latin for wolf. Remus was one of the
founders of Rome (the other one being Romulus). When they were abandoned,
a wolf took pity on them and brought them up as her own cubs. So, a very
wolfy sort of name, all in all.
Malfoy, Draco: Draco can be either snake or dragon in Latin. In
Malfoy's case, I'd go with the snake. And yes, this is the root from which
the name "Dracula" also derives. Latin "mala fides" and 16th century French
"malfoy" means distrust, doubt and suspicion. Modern French "mal foi"
means "bad faith."
Malfoy, Lucius: Lucius is from the Latin for light, "lucet". Suetonius,
discussing the history of the Claudian household (one of the most powerful
Roman households) states: "Many different forenames and surnames were
used by the members of the House, but they unanimously decided to ban
the forename Lucius, because one Lucius Claudius had been convicted as
a highway man and another as a murderer."
Malfoy, Narcissa: According to Greek legend, Narcissus was a very
handsome and vain young man who was punished by the gods by falling in
love with his own reflection. He couldn't bear to leave his reflection,
so he died there and his body was turned into a flower.
Maxime, Olympe: Maxime is somewhere along the lines of "maximum",
both in French and English.
McGonagall, Minerva: Minerva was the Roman equivalent of Athena.
She was the goddess of war and wisdom. Also, there was a poet called McGonagall,
who was very prim and strict.
Mirror of Erised: "Erised" is "desire" spelled backwards, or perhaps
seen in a mirror. In the same way, the inscription on the mirror, "Erised
stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi" is the mirror image of "I show not
your face but your heart's desire."
Morsmordre: The incantation to shoot the Dark Mark into the sky.
Latin "mors" means death; French "mordre" is to bite, ie - Death Eaters.
Nagini: The Hindu snake goddess.
Norris, Mrs: A horrible character in Jane Austen's Mansfield
Nox: This is the spell to put out a lighted wand. Nox is Latin
Omnioculars: "Omnis" + "oculus". Literally "see-alls" in Latin.
Parselmouth: An old word for someone with a deformed mouth.
Patil, Parvati: Parvati was an Indian goddess. Her twin goddess
(whose name was NOT Padma) was evil.
Peeves the Poltergeist: No real surprises here. "Peeve" is an
English word which basically means annoy or irritate. Oddly, I still have
a difficult time convincing my best friend that this is actually a word...
Pettigrew, Peter: Peter in the Bible was the disciple who betrayed
Jesus three times. And Jesus starts with a J, just like James... just
an idea. In the French version, they call him "Peter Pettigrow", which
sounds like "petit gros", meaning "small and fat."
Philosopher's [Sorcerer's] Stone: The Philosopher's Stone is a
real thing, which is why the American publishers are so insane. By real,
I mean a real legend. Alchemists believed that the Philosopher's Stone
could turn cheap metals into silver and gold and produce and elixir that
would make you live forever.
Prang, Ernie: The driver of the Knight Bus. "Prang" means "car
Quidditch: Okay, theory: Quaffle, Bludger, Bludger,
Snitch. Missing a letter, but never mind.
Scabbers: Tranlated into French as Croutard (circumflex accent
over the u). "Croute" means "scab".
Sickle: A tool for cutting corn. Cronus kills his father with
a sickle in Greek mythology.
Sinistra, Professor: Either "left-handed" or "on the left."
Snape, Severus: Severe means very strict or cruel. Severus was
the name of many early saints (can you imagine Snape being made a saint?).
Snape is a town in Suffolk, England. In the French version of the books,
they call him Severus Rogue, meaning untrustworthy person, although why
they did this I just don't know. Maybe "Snape" is similar to something
rude in French. :-)
Sorting Hat: This shows you how clever translaters are. The Sorting
Hat is known as "choixpeau" in the French books, which is a lovely play-on-words
of "chapeau" (hat) and "choix" (choice or selection).
S.P.E.W: Totally useless piece of information for you: in French,
this has been translated as S.A.L.E., meaning "nasty." In German it was
B.ELFE.R., which means... well, it's not in my dictionary, but I'm sure
it means something.
Tarantallegra: A spell that Malfoy cursed Harry with during the
Dueling Club meeting. A tarentella is a type of dance, and "allegro" is
music-language for fast. It actually means "tipsy" in Italien, but music
teachers don't believe you if you tell them that, trust me.
Vablasky, Cassandra (author of "Unfogging the Future"): Cassandra
Vablasky really was a medium at some time. Also, Cassandra in Greek mythology
was cursed so that she could accurately foretell the future, but no one
would ever believe her predictions. She predicted the Trojan War.
Vector, Professor (teaches Arithmancy): Vector is a mathematical
term. My Physics teacher is capable of going on about them for hours.
Veela: In Slovenian folklore, there is a creature called a "vila".
They are normally red-haired and bird-like, but they can become very attractive
if they wish to influence young men.
Voldemort: In French, this would mean "flight of death" or "theft
of death" ("vol" - flight or theft, "de" - of, "mort" - death). Or this
could be constructed as "flight from death", which is, I suppose, what
Voldemort does. Alternatively, I believe that Merlin killed an evil wizard
called Voldemortist a few years before Arthur came along. Not Arthur Weasley,
you understand, Arthur as in Round Table.
Weasley, Ron: Running Weasel was a general of some army or other.
He was a brilliant strategist and never lost a game of chess. He died
when a rat that had been dyed yellow by his soldiers for a joke knocked
over a lamp and started a fire. Is it just me, or does this sound familiar?
However, I never did find any text for that, so perhaps we can dismiss
it as internet rumor. Ronald means "counsel power". Ron going to go into
politics? Oh no, maybe Ron joins Percy at the Ministry of Magic! Also,
Ron is said to mean "by his advice we shall live". Foreshadowing...?
Wingardium Leviosa: "Leviosa" from the Latin "levis" meaning "light"
as in weight.
Wood, Oliver: Broomsticks are made of wood...? Okay, that's daft,
Got any more to add? Email CCGP at Sagittaire260@yahoo.co.uk