From a recent question, I know a curse is intended to harm people, and I think a charm is an object with a special power, but I also think I remember the word having a different meaning in Harry Potter. And I'm not clear if a curse has to be a spell or if it could be an enchantment or charm as well.

So what, exactly is the difference between a spell, an enchantment, a charm, and a curse?

2 Answers 2


Here's a description of spell types as J.K. Rowling classifies them:

Spell: The generic term for a piece of magic.

Charm: Does not fundamentally alter the properties of the subject of the spell, but adds, or changes, properties. Turning a teacup into a rat would be a spell, whereas making a teacup dance would be a charm. The grey area comes with things like 'Stunning Spells', which on balance I think are Charms, but which I call spells for alliterative effect.

Hexes: Has a connotation of dark magic, as do jinxes, but of a minor sort. I see 'hex' as slightly worse. I usually use 'jinx' for spells whose effects are irritating but amusing.

Curses: Reserved for the worst kinds of dark magic.

J.K. Rowling's Personal Website

So that's a basic linear explanation of the different levels of magic.

Lily's protective magic given to Harry when she gave her life to save his has been referred to in canon as an enchantment.

  • 1
    Anything on enchantments?
    – Tango
    Feb 9, 2012 at 3:22
  • 1
    @Slytherincess, you are hard to compete against. You're fast, you know your Potterverse, and you're thorough. You are the Perry the Platypus to my Doofenshmirtz. Feb 9, 2012 at 3:33
  • Didn't you answer this exact question a couple months ago?
    – Kevin
    Feb 9, 2012 at 3:44
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    @TangoOversway -- No, not on JKR's website, but enchantments are referred to throughout canon, the most obvious being Lily's protective enchantments placed on Harry when she chose to die instead of stepping aside to let Voldemort take a shot at Harry. Protective enchantments are mentioned as well -- such as enchantments protecting Hogwarts. Perhaps this is mentioned in Hogwarts: A History (and repeated by Hermione). Feb 9, 2012 at 18:38
  • @Kevin -- I don't think so, but I answered a similar question here a while back. As well, I just gave the same info in my response to TangoOversway's question regarding Dark Magic. :) Feb 9, 2012 at 18:40

Charms would be less potent than enchantments,and Jinxes are only minor inconveniences while hexes and curses are much more potent, malicious and deadly by nature. Also curse are mean to last for a long time or for ever/ until the subject dies.

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