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One of Dumbledore's titles is "Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot".

What is the difference between a Wizard and a Warlock in Potterverse? As we don't see the term Warlock used often in the books, my impression is that a Warlock is somehow officially different from a Wizard.

Please no Wikipedia, HP Wikia, or dictionary.com answers. I'm looking for a canon-based¹ explanation.

¹Any of the ten HP books or a quote from JKR

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  • 3
    I don't think that JKR ever gives a definition for either a Wizard or Warlock, but rather relies on the predefined notions that people have of them, and then builds on those notions. So I don't know that this can be properly answered without delving into dictionary descriptions of the words.
    – NominSim
    Apr 29, 2012 at 19:33
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    This question can definitely be answered without dictionary descriptions. :) Apr 30, 2012 at 5:27
  • "Warlock" is used surprisingly often in HBP. At least four times, by my count.
    – J. Mini
    Nov 19, 2020 at 15:32
  • “About five or six letters.” Oct 28, 2021 at 16:54

2 Answers 2

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J. K. Rowling addresses her use of this in a footnote of the Warlock's Hairy Heart:

The term "warlock" is a very old one. Although it is sometimes used as interchangeable with "wizards", it originally denoted one learned in dueling and all martial magic. It was also given as a title to wizards who had performed feats of bravery, rather as Muggles were sometimes knighted for acts of valor. By calling the young wizard in this story a warlock, Beedle indicates that he has already been recognized as especially skillful at offensive magic. These days wizards use "warlock" in one of two ways: to describe a wizard of unusally fierce appearance, or as a title denoting particular skill or achievement. Thus, Dumbledore himself was Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot. - JKR

As you see elsewhere in her writings there are numerous examples of Rowling using both words through the books (Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot, The Warlock's Hairy Heart, innumerable counts of wizard), but some excerpts definitely use the words interchangeably:

Records show that witches and wizards in Europe were using flying broomsticks as early as A.D. 962. A German illuminated manuscript of this period shows three warlocks dismounting from their brooms with looks of exquisite discomfort on their faces.

From Quidditch Through The Ages.

Describe the circumstances that led to the formation of the International Confederation of Wizards and explain why the warlocks of Liechtenstein refused to join.

From the Order of the Phoenix (an exam question).

Of course, the centuries-old trade in love potions shows that our fictional wizard is hardly alone in seeking to control the unpredictable course of love.

From the Warlock's Hairy Heart's postscript, about the man described as a warlock everywhere else.

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  • After having a search through the books, warlocks appear most often in official documents and bars. I'm not sure if there's a link there.
    – dlanod
    Apr 29, 2012 at 21:12
  • I'm surprised you mention The Warlock's Hairy Heart, but don't go further with it. :) Apr 30, 2012 at 4:49
  • I had a quick scan to see if she called him a warlock all the way through or if she interchanged like my two examples above, but as far as I could see it was solely warlock. May have missed some examples though.
    – dlanod
    Apr 30, 2012 at 4:57
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    Well, if you feel like it, read it further. :) Apr 30, 2012 at 5:31
  • Guess I found what you were hinting at, which amusingly also means my initial joke about official documents and bars is pretty much the actual truth! I had read the story, but had not read the postscript.
    – dlanod
    May 1, 2012 at 10:20
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Warlock appears to be a term used to describe famous wizards, or wizards that are noteworthy for courage.

Otherwise, there appears to be no difference at all.

1
  • Although not untrue, this is lacking any sort of reference to back it up.
    – Valorum
    Oct 28, 2021 at 16:38

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