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When writing questions and answers here about the Harry Potter series, I often need a word for "someone who's not a Muggle". People often refer to "the wizarding world" as opposed to the Muggle word, so "wizard" would be one choice - but it seems slightly sexist to exclude witches in that way. On the other hand, "witch or wizard" is a bit cumbersome, much longer than the simple word "Muggle".

Is there a sensible word to use which is neither sexist nor cumbersome, that makes a good equivalent to "Muggle"? What would JK Rowling say to fill in a sentence such as this:

Muggles use technology, while [...] use magic.

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    hmm, my vote would be for this question to stay open and the other one be closed as a duplicate.
    – RedCaio
    Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 2:34
  • @RedCaio Up to you, if you want to VTRO. I'm abstaining for obvious reasons ;-)
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 14:09

2 Answers 2

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"Wizard" can be used for males and females

Dumbledore uses the term "wizards" to refer to both males and females.

HERMIONE: Please believe us.

DUMBLEDORE: I do, Miss Granger. But the word of three 13-year-old wizards will convince few others

- Prisoner of Azkaban (film)

The shrunken heads also use "wizards" to refer to both males and females when Ron and Hermione try to follow Harry, who is under the invisibility cloak, into a tavern at Hogsmeade.

HERMIONE: Harry!

SHRUNKEN HEAD 1: No underage wizards allowed in today!

SHRUNKEN HEAD 2: Shut the [...] door!

HERMIONE: So rude.

RON: Thick heads.

- Prisoner of Azkaban (film)

Ron uses "wizard" to describe a group of presumably mixed gender individuals.

Harry -- this is a Pocket Sneakoscope. If there's someone untrustworthy around, it's supposed to light up and spin. Bill says it's rubbish sold for wizard tourists and isn't reliable, because it kept lighting up at dinner last night. But he didn't realize Fred and George had put beetles in his soup.

- Prisoner of Azkaban (book)

In all these situations the term "wizards" was used to describe a group of males and females. It is presumably acceptable to do so as it is unlikely that Dumbledore, a polite and respectable person, would use the wrong word.


That said, there are other terms that are also gender neutral, such as:

  • "magician"
  • "magical"
  • "magic folk"
  • "the wizarding world"
  • "wand carrier"

More specific, but still gender neutral terms include:

  • "aurors"
  • "students"
  • "hogwartians"

The term "wizarding" seems to be fairly common

From Prisoner of Azkaban (book):

  • "the wizarding world"
  • "wizarding village"
  • "wizarding newspaper"
  • "Gringotts Wizarding Bank"
  • "So Harry had had no word from any of his wizarding friends for five long weeks"

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    Is this quote from the book or the film?
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 0:35
  • CAN CONFIRM, WIZARDS in book.
    – Himarm
    Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 1:04
  • @randal'thor I've specified when I'm referencing the book and when I'm referencing the film.
    – RedCaio
    Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 1:15
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    And before the SJWs start, no, this is not sexist against females. If anything it's sexist against males because there is no term for male wizards that doesn't also include women. Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 2:35
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    Why can't it be both?
    – Adamant
    Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 6:00
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The gender-neutral term "wand carrier" is used on occasion in the Harry Potter books, and so that is canon.

Speaking outside of Harry Potter specifics for a moment, I always assumed that wizard was a gender-neutral term, and that the male and female terms were warlock and witch, respectively.

Warlock (noun)

  1. a man who professes or is supposed to practice magic or sorcery; a male witch; sorcerer.

  2. a fortuneteller or conjurer.

(Source)

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  • That's odd: I always thought wizard was the male equivalent of witch, and warlock was something slightly different and gender-neutral. But this sounds like a question for ELU rather than SFF...
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 0:22
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    In HP, a Warlock is a very specific term, and not one that is simply interchangeable with "wizard"
    – Valorum
    Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 0:25
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    @randal'thor : Most dictionary definitions of wizard are gender neutral while warlock is gendered. (E.g. Wizard, from the same source.). But I definitely agree that wizard has taken on a male connotation.
    – Praxis
    Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 0:28
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    As a further aside, in diablo 3 the magical character is a Wizard for either gender :). Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 8:22
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    @randal'thor : That's fine. I would have added more, but RedCaio started building up a very thorough answer, and so I +1'ed his and left it at that. :-)
    – Praxis
    Commented Feb 8, 2016 at 20:40

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