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Expelliarmus is typically used to disarm an opponent of his/her wand. Could it be used to disarm someone of another type of weapon, such as a Basilisk fang, a phial of a dangerous potion, a Venomous Tentacula plant, or even a knife (Morphin Gaunt carried a knife, as did Bellatrix Lestrange)? Are there any instances in canon of Expelliarmus being used to disarm a person of any object other than a wand?

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4 Answers 4

up vote 15 down vote accepted

Yes, the spell causes whatever is held by the target to be knocked away. It can even be used to drive an opponent back or knock them unconscious if they have no weapon.

Expelliarmus: Considering possible spell word origins: from Latin expellere, from ex- "out" + pellere "to drive" + arma "weapon" meaning in a direct translation: "to drive out weapons"

From the Harry Potter Wikia:

The Disarming Charm is a defensive charm that disarms an opponent, causing whatever is in the person's hand at the time, usually a wand, to fly out of his or her hand.

It has been known to knock an opponent backwards in some cases, as well as disarming them. This may depend on whether the spell strikes an opponent's wand or body. The charm's incantation is Expelliarmus.

Canon examples include:

A duel between Professor Snape and Professor Lockhart:

Both of them swung their arms above their head and pointed them at their opponent; Snape cried, "Expelliarmus!" There was a dazzling flash of scarlet light and Lockhart was blasted off his feet: he flew backwards off the stage, smashed into the wall, and slid down it to sprawl onto the floor.

Chamber of Secrets, Publisher: Scholastic Inc, 5 x 7.5 inch, printed edition, copyright 1999: Page 190 - Chapter 11, The Dueling Club.

Professor Lockhart was knocked from his feet AND disarmed.

Here is a reference from the text of Chamber of Secrets of the spell being used to remove an object from a target's hand, in this case, Tom Riddle's diary from Malfoy.

Percy said, "As a school prefect-" but Harry had lost his temper. He pulled out his wand and shouted "Expelliarmus!" and just as Snape had disarmed Lockhart, so Malfoy found the diary shooting out of his hand into the air. Ron grinning broadly, caught it.

Chamber of Secrets, Publisher: Scholastic Inc, 5 x 7.5 inch, printed edition, copyright 1999: Page 235 - Chapter 13, The Very Secret Diary

The spell was able to remove the diary from Malfoy's hand, implying the spell is not limited to wands OR weapons. Anything can be removed from the hands of the target.

Here is canon movie footage showing the use of the spell both in disarming and knocking down opponents.

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Why the downvote? –  OghmaOsiris Apr 23 '12 at 0:50
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I was not the one to downvote, but I can tell you why I find this to be a poor answer. First, it's Wikispam -- a straight cut and paste. To me this shows very little effort or genuine interest in the question. Second, the "facts" in the Wiki C&P aren't cited by book and chapter for the reader to substantiate the content. FWIW, there are at least two "facts" in this answer that do not appear in canon as suggested -- I did check. The reason I'm not downvoting is it was my responsibility to say that I don't want a Wikispam answer, and I didn't do that. However, I can't choose this answer. –  Slytherincess Apr 23 '12 at 1:14
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He quoted the books which is what you asked for and gave movie canon. Would you rather he just give first hand speculation? Yes copy pasta isn't really the best answer, but he also provided exactly what was wanted afterwards. –  OghmaOsiris Apr 23 '12 at 2:01
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While the wiki data was not highly documented, (meaning it did not cite exact page numbers nor quote events directly) it was not incorrect. I have quoted and cited canon events supporting my answer. These answers come directly from the book and are therefore canon. –  Thaddeus Apr 23 '12 at 7:13
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+1 for the recent edit! –  Pureferret Apr 23 '12 at 8:12

This doesn't directly answer your precise question, but we know that Expelliarmus can act on things OTHER than wands. Specifically, on Harry himself.

More specifically, at the very end of the Third Task in "Goblet of Fire", Harry used Expelliarmus to cause a spider to drop him.

... Harry raised his wand as the spider opened its pincers once more and shouted "Expelliramus!"
It worked - the Disarming Spell made the spider drop him...

Side note: did the spider shout the spell or does JKR need some English grammar lessons? :)

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I hate starting answers with "I could find nothing canonical", but here I go again.

My wife asked years ago, "Why don't they just shoot Voldemort?" and I've seen dozens of posts on the same question, but no answer from a reliable source.

Of course, this was before we knew about Horcruxes, which renders her original question moot, but...

All I've found is people stating that Harry couldn't have used a gun on Voldemort, because Voldemort would simply use Expelliarmus to disarm him. Nothing to back the statement up, it's just stated as if it's obvious (which, of course, it's not).

So, the consensus among the fan base would seem to be "yes, Expelliarmus can be used against any weapon".

I believe the fan base has it right in this case, based on the fact that most spells in the Potterverse are loosely baaed on real words, and this one falls into the same pattern. It's a combination of "expel arms", which is exactly what it does.

In other contexts, a wand is a tool, but in the context of a Wizard's Duel, a wand is a weapon. Expelliarmus expels the arms (as in weapons, not body parts) from the hand of the opponent.

If it were specific to wands, I think the spell would be something like "ejecto wandus". (I know that last was made up, but it sounded funnier than "Accio, Voldemort's Wand!")

Of course, that's not canonical, but again, I just couldn't find a direct quote from JKR. I'm very surprised it hasn't been asked in an interview.

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-1 because, as you stated, there's no canonical reference, which is what the asker was wanting. –  OghmaOsiris Apr 23 '12 at 8:05

Expelliarmus has been used in one other case as part of a weapon. That would be in the Doctor Who episode "The Shakespeare Code". The tenth Doctor along with Martha Jones on her first trip in the Tardis visit Shakespeare to see a play in good ol' England. In the course of the episode they end up (of course) saving the world from the Carionite witches. A part of the only spell of words that would break the impending Carionite doom, is the word Expelliarmus. The actual wordings are as follows ::

"Close up this din of hateful dire decay. Decomposition of your witches plot. You thieve my brains, consider me your toy — my doted Doctor tells me I am not! Foul Carrionites festers, cease your show! Between the points 761390.. Banish thy, antiqueascas, I sing to thee.. EXPELLIARMUS !!!! "

If you LOVE the Doctor Who connection with Shakespeare and good ol' J.K, do up vote the answer.

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I do like the good Doctor, but I don't see why that would secure you an upvote. The question very specifically asks about the Harry Potter universe, while your answer addresses the Doctor Who universe. Before your answer has merit you would have to show that these are connected, which you don't (and cannot as they are not). –  bitmask Dec 14 '12 at 20:41

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