I searched a lot on the Internet for the meaning of "Ilvermorny", including Pottermore, but I couldn't find anything other than wild theories like this. :( Now, I admit that "Hogwarts" doesn't seem to have a "meaning" either, but usually JK Rowling follows a naming convention that signifies some characteristics of each character. (Sirius is the "dog star", Remus Lupin... well, Romulus and Remus - the wolf twins who founded Rome + lupus - Latin for "wolf", etc.) Doesn't the same apply to the names of buildings/institutes?

While we're at it, I have never quite figured out why Durmstrang and Beauxbatons are called what they are either. Well, I heard Beauxbatons would literally translate to "beautiful sticks/wands", but that just seems too silly for a name...

  • 1
    Does it need to have a meaning? Could it just be something she made up?
    – Edlothiad
    Nov 13, 2017 at 9:57
  • 2
    Related, probably not duplicate: Why do the new non-English wizarding schools have such unimaginative names?
    – Rand al'Thor
    Nov 13, 2017 at 10:04
  • 3
    @Edlothiad Sure, it could be. But I was just wondering if it did have a meaning. Most things in the Potterverse have a meaning. Even the Mirror of Erised has a meaning: "I show not your face, but your heart's desire." :) So I am interested to know if these school-names do have a meaning. Nov 13, 2017 at 10:06
  • 1
    Well, the meanings of Durmstrang and Beauxbatons are sort of covered (or at least speculated on) in the question I linked to. And the meaning of Hogwarts has at least two whole questions of its own.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Nov 13, 2017 at 10:13
  • 1
    What's the story in Ilvermory? Wouldn't you like to know.... (to the tune of youtube.com/watch?v=GWBAINpDuvk)
    – Valorum
    Oct 8, 2018 at 22:43

4 Answers 4


In-universe, it’s after the cottage Isolt grew up in.

The reason Isolt chose the name in-universe was after the cottage where she grew up in Ireland. No explanation is given to why the original cottage was named Ilvermorny.

James even helped Isolt construct a stone house on the top of Greylock, providing a workable design, having been a stonemason in England, which Isolt made a reality in the space of an afternoon. Isolt christened her new home ‘Ilvermorny’ after the cottage in which she had been born, and which Gormlaith had destroyed.
Ilvermorny (Pottermore)

No out-of-universe meaning has yet been mentioned.

There’s no place in Ireland (or anywhere else) named “Ilvermorny” that would justify a cottage, and by extension the school, being named it. It doesn’t seem to be based on a real word or phrase in any language. It’s possible that a meaning may be revealed at some point, or there may be no specific intended meaning.

Like mentioned in this Reddit thread, a name Gaelic would be hard for most English-speaking people, who wouldn’t have experience with it, to pronounce. If is is indeed in Gaelic, it’s likely an Anglicized version of whatever words it’s based on, and not spelled the same way.

It’s possible that it’s from the French words for “dreary green island”.

“Île Verte Morne” in French translates to something like “dreary green island”. “Île” means “island”, “vert” means “green”, and “morne” means something like “dreary or bleak”. This would certainly fit the original cottage, which is in Ireland, and because of Gormlaith, its end was bleak. Ireland is known as the Emerald Isle because of its green scenery and it being an island, so a name referring to a green island would suit a place there.

It’s also possible that it’s supposed to mean “green island hill” in French, using a translation of “morne” where it means “hill”. It being translated as “hill” is used in place names, and there’s also a mountain range in Ireland named the Mourne Mountains.

Both places in Ireland referred to in the Ilvermorny writing are real places, with Carrauntoohil, the highest mountain in Ireland situated between them. The name meaning “green island hill” would then make sense, as “green island” still could refer to Ireland, and the cottage was near a hill (the mountain close by).

enter image description here

This does fit the JKR style of naming, since she has been known to uses phrases in French to form the basis of names. For example, Voldemort is likely from the French phrase for “flight from death”. “Vol” means either “flight” or “theft”, “de” most likely means either “from” or “of”, and “mort” means “death” - suited for a man whose goal was immortality.

Durmstrang is wordplay on the phrase “sturm und drang”.

The phrase means “storm and stress” when translated literally, and is commonly used to describe either turmoil or a German literary movement where works are generally about one person’s rebellion against society.

Beauxbatons is just the French words for “beautiful sticks”.

Beauxbatons is made up of two words - “beaux” meaning “beautiful” and “batons” meaning “sticks”. Baton is also a synonym for wand.

  • 6
    French here, "Île Vert Morne" doesn't mean anything, for two reasons : 1. There's a grammatical error, it should be "Verte", since "Île" is a feminine noun. 2. It's highly unusual in French to have two successive adjective, we'd normally say "Île verte et morne" (adding "et", which means "and" between the two adjectives), or "Morne île verte" (putting the noun between adjectives). As for the noun version of "morne", which is supposed to mean "hill", it's essentially used in overseas territories, such as the West Indies, and is not known in continental France (at least I never heard it).
    – roberto06
    Nov 13, 2017 at 12:27
  • 3
    @Bellatrix no worries, the etymological mystery remains unsolved. Spot on explanations for Durmstrang and Beauxbatons, though.
    – roberto06
    Nov 13, 2017 at 12:31
  • 2
    Although OP didn't ask for it, it may still be worth mentioning that the other four schools all translate to "magic school".
    – ibid
    Nov 13, 2017 at 15:27
  • 3
    This answer has quite a few problems with French translations: de in Voldemort is "of", not "from"; "wand" would be baguette, not bâton (and note the accent); and like others said ile verte morne is close to nonsensical, although the same could be said of voldemort, so who knows.
    – isanae
    Nov 13, 2017 at 17:58
  • 6
    @roberto06: you are right on the French language. On the other hand, it would not be the first time that English people borrow French words without respecting the grammar, or adapting it for the sake of pronunciation. And French people also do it when borrowing foreign words (un "dressing", "faire un jogging", un "pin's" don't really make sense for English speakers).
    – Taladris
    Nov 14, 2017 at 1:44

So, I am a first language speaker of Irish, and I am studying the language and its literature and history as part of my course, and this is the best I can do with undoing the Anglicisation of "Ilvermorny", which, as @Bellatrix has mentioned already, is not a name that already exists in Ireland.

Ilvermorny < Ilver\morny < Oirbheart Muirneach

(trust me, it actually does sound like 'Ilvermorny' when said out loud).

It's kind of cute, I guess, because Oirbheart means, among other things, 'casting (of a spell)', and Muirneach, as an adjective, means ‘passionate, heartfelt or tender’. So, Ilvermorny/ Oirbheart Muirneach means (at a kind of stretch) "tenderly cast spell", which in my opinion fits into the canon of William and Ríonach Sayre deciding to help the Muggles in their area with magic.

Okay, so here goes my headcanon:

The Irish branch of the Gaunt family (ending at this point with Gormlaith and Ríonach) came to Ireland either because of feuds with the English Gaunts/other pure-blood families/etc. They had been in Ireland for a couple of generations at least, considering the Gormlaith and Ríonach's names (fun fact; Ríonach means 'a royal', and Gormlaith means 'Blue Princess' - very fancy names for SLytherin's descendants), and in my opinion, these two Gaunt sisters are most definitely bilingual - English and Irish.

HOWEVER, William Sayre is not an Irish Gaelic name. Rather, it's an Irish name that has been Anglicised. In terms of Irish history, that means that William Sayre, Isolt Sayre's father, is from a family that was transitioning from being Irish-speaking to English-speaking. In my opinion, William is probably the grandchild of the couple that made the change to speak English, which means that he probably cannot speak Irish, or at least not well.

HERE'S THE CUTE BIT; when William and Ríonach came back from Hogwarts, decided to get married and name their house, Ríonach most likely came up with the name "Oirbheart Muirneach", and then William tried to say it like an English-speaker of Irish heritage would say it, and ended up saying something like "Ilvermorny". Ríonach, laughing at him most likely, decided to keep it that way, and that inside-family-joke eventually became the name of the most democratic school in the whole wizarding world.

I really like my headcanon. ;)

  • wow! that's some headcanon! I wish someone would show this to Rowling! :D May 21, 2018 at 4:57

not a meaning exactly, but I found the following on Pottermore

James even helped Isolt construct a stone house on the top of Greylock, providing a workable design, having been a stonemason in England, which Isolt made a reality in the space of an afternoon. Isolt christened her new home ‘Ilvermorny’ after the cottage in which she had been born, and which Gormlaith had destroyed.

  • See a reddit discussion on the subject
    – user68762
    Nov 13, 2017 at 10:13
  • Yes, I read that too. :) But I'm still intrigued what inspired Rowling to use that word. I read somewhere she derived Hogwarts from a hogwort plant she saw. (That may not be authentic information, though.) And I couldn't find any Irish word that resembled "Ilvermorny". Nov 13, 2017 at 10:14
  • @Morrigan yes, you are right. I especially liked the speculation at the bottom, by daisie18. If you post an answer, I would be glad to accept it. :) Nov 13, 2017 at 10:22

I’ve always thought it reminds me of Inverness (Ilver) and Moray (Morny). If the names can’t be translated and is just invented it’s an idea at least!

Inverness is a city on Scotland’s northeast coast, where the River Ness meets the Moray Firth. It's the largest city and the cultural capital of the Scottish Highlands.

Seen as JK lived in Scotland and they also used to speak Gaelic I thought that wasn’t such a stretch.

  • 1
    Describing Inverness as being "on Scotland’s northeast coast" is... interesting.
    – AakashM
    Oct 11, 2021 at 12:36
  • Probably copied from Wikipedia, @AakashM. :D Oct 11, 2021 at 19:20

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.