The names in J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter
books are quite significant, and employ a fair degree of historical and literary allusion. In some cases, characters' secrets are held in their names. The following list contains observations of mine as well as of a number of other noders.
: To peeve is to annoy - obviously appropriate for the annoying poltergeist
: Lupus is a wolf
, Lupine means relating to a wolf. Also, perhaps a reference to fictional thief Arsene Lupin
? His first name is a reference to Romulus and Remus
, in Roman mythology, who were seperated from their parents and raised by a she-wolf.
This is of course a game
, and is Latin for 'I play'. A perfect name for the character who is not only involved in sports, but has a terribly playful personality.
This is one of my favourites. 'Hagridden' means "harassed by or as if by a witch" - kind of
appropriate, I guess. Dictionary.com, in explaining the word, quotes C.S. Lewis -
"a man hagridden by the future haunted by visions of an imminent heaven
I'm think this could be a deliberate reference by JKR given that both writers are in the children's fantasy
writing tradition. This quote is also relevant to the imminence of Voldemort
's return to power, and the constant battle of Good versus Evil
that occurs in the Harry Potter
books. Furthermore, we can well imagine that Hagrid, in his regional accent, may say 'Hagrid' instead of 'Hagridden' were he to use the word.
: Dictionary.com says of Jinni, a related word to Genie
, 'a spirit
capable of assuming human or animal form and exercising supernatural
influence over people'. Doesn't seem to have anything to do with Ginny, but suitably appropriate for the magic
al setting, and perhaps a hint of things to come for the character? Furthermore, Ginny is short for Ginevra, which is a version of the name Guinevere
... again somewhat of a magical reference.
: Aside from more common definitions, the word potter can be defined as "bustle; confusion
; tumult; flutter; bother".
The name Dobby
comes from Robert. It is appropriate that the name of the servile and physically small character should be a diminutive.
There are many definitions of Fudge
appropriate to his ineffective character...
- To evade (an issue, for example); dodge. (think about Fudge's refusal to
accept the return of Voldemort
- To act in an indecisive manner: eg. 'always fudged on the important questions'.
- Nonsense; humbug.
- To fake or falsify: eg. 'fudge casualty figures.'
- To exceed the proper bounds or limits of something (cheat; to 'fudge an exam') and
- To fail to perform as expected.
: Reminds me of 'snipe', as in "to make malicious, underhand remarks
or attacks", and it sounds like a cross between that and 'snake'. His position as spy, perhaps in future on the Dark Side on
behalf of the good guys, makes his 'snipe' almost appropriate in the sense
of hiding and shooting one's enemy. The name snape also kind of
reminds me of the horrible vegetable parsnip
. His first name, Severus is
related to 'severe' and is shared with Lucius Septimus Severus
, an "Emperor
(193-211) who created a military monarchy
and ruled as a despot
(again, from dictionary.com)
Which brings to mind Malfoy
senior... isn't his name Lucius
? Lucius means light, and apparently the similar sounding name Lucifer
can be defined as "light-bringer", so Lucius is definitely an evil sounding name.
The name Malfoy
can be translated from French as 'bad faith'. A suitable name for someone who tells lies, and someone who perhaps puts faith in the wrong people. I don't know if there's an existentialist
is the latin word meaning white. In contrast, of course, with the Dark Lord
. If we take the name Albus to represent the forces of goodness, and combine it with his surname meaning 'bumblebee
', we have quite a nice description of his character. The Italian name for the character is quite different however - 'Silencio', on account of his lack of words - a different image altogether.
in Greek mythology
had two suitors fighting over her, perhaps like Ron and Krum?
has an apposite surname - weasels being lowly and thin like Ron's poor family, and also having red hair.
is a phoney celeb, but his surname suggests he might have the 'key to the public's heart' or something. The name Gilderoy can be translated as 'golden king' (gild = gold, as in 'gilded', roi being 'king' in french). A suitable reflection of his self image.
the mean spirited caretaker has an appropriate name. Argus
is a giant from Greek mythology with 100 eyes (think how Filch sees so much), and filch means to steal. His cat, Mrs. Norris, shares a name with a busybody character from Jane Austen
's Mansfield Park
. Austen is apparently one of JKR's favourite authors.
is the brightest star in the Northern Hemisphere, and is part of the constellation Canis Major
(which means 'big dog'). It is also called the Dog Star. The character's name is an apt one considering he is a man who takes the form of a black dog, and is quite a dark character too.
the professor of divination has a fitting name, "Sibyl" being an ancient term for a prophetess
One of the dark wizards who shows up at the end of Phoenix is named Dolohov
. This is the same name of a character in Tolstoy's War and Peace
, who manipulates people just because he doesn't know what else to do with himself.
from Order of the Phoenix - to take umbrage is to be offended.
Finally, the evil one himself, Voldemort
. In French, 'vol de mort', we can parse this as 'flight of death' or 'thief of death', a good description of the man who refuses to die. Or we can take it as 'flight of
death - this could relate to Voldermort's killing sprees, or more specifically to the Avada Kedavra spell, described as having a rushing noise like wings.
This list is a collective effort, started by myself and incorporating suggestions from:
, a scar faery
, Frater 219
Apologies for not stating exactly which suggestion came from which noder.
Please msg me if you have any more ideas for the list.