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Do the House Elves share the family name (aka last name) of their masters? If so, what happens if they are freed? For example is Dobby "Dobby Malfoy" or is Kreacher "Kreacher Black"?

If they do not have last names does that mean they don't have actual families? If they do not have families where did they come from and how were they born?

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    Of course house elves do not share the names of the family they serve. This would be mortifying to the family. They are servants. – anemone Nov 1 '16 at 12:02
  • Related scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/60879/… (including some of the related posts thereof) – anemone Nov 1 '16 at 12:14
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    @Abemone yet Dobby curiously says " “Dobby had to punish himself... Dobby almost spoke ill of his family, sir. . . .” we have no idea how they refer to themselves when there's no humans around, maybe they even have their own language ( like goblins). Winky felt responsible for her family which is not usual 'slave behaviour'. Almost as if she owned them. The family they're connected to is the most important thing for the elves, so maybe they refer to each other as 'Dobby of the Malfoys' or 'Winky of house Crouch' and free elves who have no such name are lower in status...? – user68762 Nov 1 '16 at 13:16
  • I'm not sure they have need of a family name. From what we know of their lives pre-Hermione's reforms, it seems like they'd never or almost never even leave the house or at least the company of their master. Some may only very very rarely even encounter another elf. Therefore, one name would do just fine and all the reasons that humans have family names may be unnecessary. – ThruGog Nov 1 '16 at 13:38
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    @ThruGog yeah, but those hogwarts elves are just personalitiless entities, the greek chorus of dobby & winky. Kreatcher, though, is perfectly capable to work around orders and visit whomever he likes. So how we're supposed to believe that h.elves are those perfectly obedient and compliant creatures when the three elves we do get to know behave differently? – user68762 Nov 2 '16 at 10:31
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Not as far as we know.

No house-elf is ever referred to by more than a single name in any canonical materials - books, Pottermore, or even films. Dobby, Winky, and Kreacher are always called simply Dobby, Winky, and Kreacher, not Dobby Malfoy, Winky Crouch, Kreacher Black, or by surnames of their own.

According to Wikipedia (which is of course not a canon source, but it's the best I could find):

House-elves are small elves used by wizards as slaves. They are 2–3 feet tall, with spindly limbs and oversized heads and eyes. They have pointed, bat-like ears and high, squeaky voices. Their names are usually pet-like diminutives, and they do not appear to have surnames. They habitually refer to themselves in the third person.

(emphasis mine)

But we don't really know much about house-elf culture, if indeed they have any culture among themselves beyond simply serving wizardkind. So it is possible that house-elves have surnames which they might use to each other, but the wizards they serve simply don't care and refer to them by a single name because it's easier. (I've previously discussed the issue of house-elf culture here.)

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    We do know that they have lineages, witness the row of house-elf heads at 12 Grimmauld Place and Winky talking about her mother and her mother's mother serving the Crouches and how ashamed they would have been of her – Au101 Nov 1 '16 at 12:17
  • We learn a bit about their culture from W.O.M.B.A.T. Grade 2, Question 7. – ibid Nov 1 '16 at 20:01
  • @ibid I assume that's the same question referred to in this answer? – Rand al'Thor Nov 1 '16 at 20:42
  • @Randal'Thor - Yeah. – ibid Nov 1 '16 at 20:46
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They certainly don't have surnames of their own:

He wanted to ask, 'What are you?' but thought it would sound too rude, so instead he said, 'Who are you?'

'Dobby, sir. Just Dobby. Dobby the house-elf,' said the creature.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - p.15 - Bloomsbury - Chapter 2, Dobby's Warning

Of course, it is still possible that they take the name of the family they serve. In this case, presumably Dobby wouldn't want to reveal his surname to Harry, which would still be compatible with the way he introduced himself to Harry. All the same, in that case, it seems to me that you wouldn't introduce yourself as 'just Dobby', you'd just be careful not to mention the name Malfoy. But he clearly doesn't have his own last name.

  • +1 good catch, except it reminded me Treebeard and the unpronounceable trope. (It's probably just Dobby, but how cool would it be if JKR would write a book with another elvish language) – user68762 Nov 15 '16 at 18:02
  • @R.Skeeter - I think Tolkien desired to make a distinction between elfs (ie - fairie-esque creatures) vs 'elves' as seen in his works – NKCampbell Nov 15 '16 at 18:16
  • Not sure Dobby reminds me of a fairy. He's also not arrogant and tall enough to get a ticket to the west. Anyway, we SPEW activists wont bow our heads to discriminatory language and will continue to call them elves. – user68762 Nov 15 '16 at 18:36
  • should be accepted – TGar Apr 9 '18 at 9:24

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