An undiscovered hidden meaning behind Harry Potter naming?

JK Rowling goes to some lengths to have hidden meaning behind her names, as everyone here is surely aware. Since Voldemort's real name is Tom and Harry's is Harry, could this be a layered reference to the common English phrase "Any Tom, Dick or Harry.." to mean anyone - giving a reference to the fact that evil and good people can be indeed anyone?

Has JK Rowling ever acknowledged such a reference or inspiration?

  • 5
    I think this could be considered mostly opinion based unless JKR has said something on the matter...
    – AJL
    Mar 25, 2016 at 15:32
  • 5
    Then who's Dick?
    – Rand al'Thor
    Mar 25, 2016 at 15:58
  • 5
    @WillD: "Of course it is an opinion, posted to get others opinions" - unfortunately, this makes it difficult, if not impossible, to select one definitive answer. As such, this kind of questions is usually discouraged on the Stack Exchange Q&A sites. Mar 25, 2016 at 16:00
  • 2
    @WillD Re your now-edited comment, please be nice. And yes, some questions do invite conjectural answers more than others; but there should always be a certain level of objectivity in questions ("do you think X refers to Y?" off-topic, "is there any evidence / has Rowling ever said that X refers to Y?" on-topic) and answers (canon quotes preferable, reasonable explanations acceptable, wild speculation discouraged).
    – Rand al'Thor
    Mar 25, 2016 at 16:09
  • 5
    Well, Voldemort acts like a complete dick if that's any help...
    – Valorum
    Mar 25, 2016 at 16:26

1 Answer 1


No they are not

Although JK Rowling has never addressed this anywhere in interviews, Pottermore, twitter, or anywhere else, she has showed the reasons why she picked those two names.

Harry was picked because Rowling likes the name

Question: From where did you get the name for Harry Potter?

J.K. Rowling: 'Harry' has always been my favourite boy's name, so if my daughter had been a son, he would have been Harry Rowling. Then I would have had to choose a different name for "Harry" in the books, because it would have been too cruel to name him after my own son. "Potter" was the surname of a family who used to live near me when I was seven years old and I always liked the name, so I borrowed it.
(About the Books: J.K. Rowling's live interview on Scholastic.com)

Tom was picked for the in-universe reason, to give Voldemort an ordinary name for him to hate, causing him to adopt a different name instead.

Ask for Tom the barman — easy enough to remember, as he shares your name —”
Riddle gave an irritable twitch, as though trying to displace an irksome fly.
“You dislike the name ‘Tom’?”
“There are a lot of Toms,” muttered Riddle.


“Firstly, I hope you noticed Riddle’s reaction when I mentioned that another shared his first name, ‘Tom’?”
Harry nodded.
“There he showed his contempt for anything that tied him to other people, anything that made him ordinary. Even then, he wished to be different, separate, notorious. He shed his name, as you know, within a few short years of that conversation and created the mask of ‘Lord Voldemort’ behind which he has been hidden for so long.
(Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - Chapter 13)

It should also be noted that there is no character named "Dick". The closest you get is random side character Dirk Cresswell, the Head of the Goblin Liaison Office, who is mentioned three times in the entire series.

Credit to Richard, Voldemort, and Rand al'thor.

  • Interesting, actually, that even though there are at least two Richards in rather important roles in the movies, I can't think of a single one in the books! May 2, 2016 at 4:42

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