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I came across this very tongue in cheek hypothetical conversation posted on Tumblr.

when remus first got bitten by a werewolf his parents rushed him to the hospital and they were like “what’s wrong?” “he was bitten by a werewolf” “oh god. what’s his name?” “remus lupin.” “sir are you [censored] with me right now”

"Remus", of course, is a reference to the mythological character of the same name, who was raised by wolves.

"Lupin" is a form of the latin "lupus", translating to the word "wolf".

His name is one giant hint to his secret of being a werewolf.

Is there any in-universe explanation as to why his name is so wolf-related if he only became a werewolf after birth?

(Note that I found this question which is more about the out-of-universe historical significance. I'm specifically looking for in-universe.)

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I highly doubt it: Rowling did similar things with many characters. The name Weasley, for example, was chosen for a reason out of universe (I'll see if I can dig it up) and then there's names such as Malfoy and Draco (bad faith, and snake/dragon, respectively); though I'll grant in the Malfoy case it COULD have been given to the family for a reason by 9th Century Normans or whatever, but there are several names that mean something to us, but there's no significance in the universe. Others include Albus Dumbledore, Goyle, Severus, Umbridge, Sprout, Minerva McGonagall. Seems Rowling enjoys this. – Mac Cooper Jun 16 '14 at 11:32
I'm sorry but the answer here is so much likely "obviously not" that I'm wondering why you're even asking :/ – o0'. Jun 16 '14 at 12:47
@Lohoris because there's a lot of supplemental material that I'm not familiar with. Rowling has created and/or given backstories to a lot of things I never would have expected. It's entirely possible that this was one of those. – phantom42 Jun 16 '14 at 12:50
I wonder if that's his birth name, or he'd changed it after the bite. – b_jonas Jun 16 '14 at 14:05
@b_jonas while that's certainly possible (at least, without knowing the character's history from birth) it seems counter-productive if they're trying to hide the fact that he has become a werewolf. – phantom42 Jun 16 '14 at 14:07
up vote 7 down vote accepted

I don’t believe this is addressed in-universe. But I think the Lupin family may have had some prior connection to wolves.

The Pottermore entry on Lupin says this about Remus’s birth:

Lyall and Hope's first and only child, Remus John, was born after a year of marriage.

We learn what Remus’s middle name is (although we knew that from an earlier interview), but no further detail is given on the significance of his name. Also note that this was his birth name, and not something he changed later (quashing a theory from the comments, and besides, why would he want to draw attention to his werewolf condition?).

His parents were Lyall Lupin and Hope Hewell, and his father’s name is worth considering further. Quoting from Wikipedia:

“Lyall” is found early in Scotland and was derived from the Old Norse given name “Liulfr” meaning Wolf.

That’s three wolf-based names in the family, which seems more than coincidence.

I’d guess that the Lupin family has a history with werewolves, but that the origins of the name are either forgotten or not discussed. It could be that they had a werewolf in the family (possible since werewolf genes aren’t hereditary; see Teddy for an example) or that an ancestor of theirs helped to subdue werewolves. Personally, I’d think the second is more plausible, but it’s just a guess.

If they did have an ancestor who was renowned for werewolf-related activities, then they might be proud to keep the theme running through the family names. Notice that Lupin breaks this trend, and it seems unlikely that Teddy would have reinstated it. Further, it might make them a high-profile target for existing werewolves, if they were a famously anti-werewolf family.

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I wanna say "Speculation" but it actually fits remarkably well. Did Remus' father not have a run in with Fenrir? Someone's (meaning you, DVK or Slytherinprincess lol) going to find an interview that blasts all my previous comments out of the water. I'm going to go for a dig now: don't suppose you can confirm that Remus' father fought Fenrir Greyback? – Mac Cooper Jun 16 '14 at 14:32
@MacCooper: Yeah, Lyall got recruited into the Dept for Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures, and came face-to-face with Greyback in a trial. He accused Greyback of being a werewolf (most of the Ministry officials disagreed), and expressed strong anti-werewolf sentiments. This motivated the attack on his son. From Pottermore; here’s a transcript: – alexwlchan Jun 16 '14 at 15:11
that is so massively outside of any cannon I've ever seen I honestly thought you were pulling my leg and the link would be to some fake blank webpage. Why did I never go into Pottermore? Thanks for the link, I'm seriously impressed with the amount of work Rowling puts into her work, even when it will never come into the books (McGonogall had a similar deal). Thanks! – Mac Cooper Jun 16 '14 at 20:26
An ancestor who was renowned for werewolf-related activities? Lupin must be the son of Lockhart, who had saved a village from a werewolf. – b_jonas Jun 17 '14 at 8:47

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