Referring to the group of James, Sirius, Lupin, and Pettigrew as "the Marauders" seems to be pretty ubiquitous. There are many such references to them on this site alone; on a popular fanfiction site, there is an entire category called "Marauder Era".

In fact, in the books themselves there is at least one reference to "the Marauders". In Chapter Twenty-One of Half-Blood Prince, in reference to the Room of Requirement, we find the following statement:

"Maybe the Marauders never knew the room was there," said Ron.

However, it is unclear to me where this comes from. As far as I can tell, every time it appears in the books the name of the map is spelled "Marauder's" and not "Marauders'". In the former it is a singular possessive, while the latter would be a plural possessive. If the name was meant to be saying that this was the map of the Marauders – i.e. that it is the map owned/created/used by four people who went by the name "Marauders" – we would expect it to in fact be called the Marauders' map. The fact that it is called the Marauder's map makes it seem like it is a map for a Marauder – i.e. it is a map to help any wayward student get into mischief, with the typological wayward student being referred to as a marauder.

Am I missing something here? How do we get from "the Marauder's map" to a group of people who are specifically known as "the Marauders"?

  • 1
    Perhaps they named the map first and liked it enough to use it for their group identity.
    – Alarion
    Aug 27, 2019 at 2:05
  • This is yet another example of how Rowling sucks at math. Aug 27, 2019 at 2:06
  • @Alarion That's certainly a theoretical possibility, but how does anyone know that?
    – Alex
    Aug 27, 2019 at 2:09
  • 4
    I think you're reading waaaaay too much into this. It's not really that much of a stretch to go from Marauder's to Marauders and it is an every day mistake even in our world. In fact I'd even state it makes sense without the mistake. Marauder's Map - a map for a Marauder, 4 people made it so they are Marauders, call them the Marauders. Seems quite reasonable to me.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Aug 27, 2019 at 15:04
  • 2
    Because, despite what generations of English teachers have tried to pound into their students' heads, That's Not How Grammar Works. (Language is what we say it is. Writing, especially a dinky little apostrophe, is entirely secondary.)
    – Martha
    Aug 27, 2019 at 17:15

3 Answers 3


JK Rowling stated they dubbed themselves the mauraders

On the FAQ of the old JKRowling.com FAQ, one of the entries is:

On your website, you used the term "marauders" to refer to James and his friends. Were they actually called that or are you just borrowing the fan term? [Mugglenet/Lexicon question]

James, Sirius, Remus and Peter dubbed themselves ‘marauders’, hence the way they titled the map.


  • 2
    This is, of course, a retcon.
    – Valorum
    Aug 27, 2019 at 21:26

The map does not "belong" to "the Marauders". They were the ones that created it, but the lack of any protective spells on it, restricting its use to only Mooney, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs, means that they never intended to keep it purely for themselves. The only indicator that they are the ones that created it is the fact that their names are on the map itself.

He took out his wand, touched the parchment lightly and said, ‘I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.’

And at once, thin ink lines began to spread like a spider’s web from the point that George’s wand had touched. They joined each other, they criss-crossed, they fanned into every corner of the parchment; then words began to blossom across the top, great, curly green words, that proclaimed: Messrs Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs Purveyors of Aids to Magical Mischief-Makers are proud to present THE MARAUDER’S MAP.

The only keywords are "I solemnly swear I am up to no good", and "Mischief managed". This means that anyone who knows what this map is, can use it; thus making them a "Marauder", which explains the "Marauder's Map". It is a map, created by a group of 4 individuals, labelled as "The Marauders", that is a tool for any future "Marauder" that finds the map, and learns its uses.

The only other reference I can think of that would identify the original 4 as the creators of the map, is the use of the title "Messrs":

plural of Mr (= title used before a man's name) used before the names of two or more men, usually in the title of a company:

Messrs Wood and Laurence, solicitors


In this case, the "company" would be "The Marauders", who have created the tool, called "the Marauder's Map".

All that said, J.K Rowling specifically states that the map was created by, and belonged to James, Remus, Sirius and Peter (emphasis mine):

The ability of Sirius Black, Peter Pettigrew and James Potter to become, respectively, a dog, a rat and a stag, enabled them to explore the castle grounds by night undetected. The interior of the castle, meanwhile, was mapped over time with the help of James Potter’s Invisibility Cloak.

The Marauder’s Map is lasting testimony to the advanced magical ability of the four friends who included Harry Potter’s father, godfather and favourite teacher. The map they created during their time at Hogwarts appears to be a blank piece of parchment unless activated by the phrase: ‘I solemnly swear that I am up to no good,’ a phrase that, in the case of three of the four makers, should be understood as a joke. The ‘no good’ of which they wrote never denoted Dark magic, but school rule-breaking; similar bravado is evinced by their use of their own nicknames on the map (‘Messrs Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs’).


Edit: As you have quoted in your question, Ron refers to the original 4 as the "Marauders". This is not really anything official, just a reference to them as the map creators. Outside of this, there is no hard connection between the label, and the group.

It is less wordy than "Mooney, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs", and it is a fairly common practice to label groups by a common factor. I.e. "the Slytherins".

The reason this is not more widely used is simply due to the knowledge of this particular group being known to only a limited few.

  • The map belongs the them because they created it, and it is password protected. The probability that anyone would find the password are low. They may have intended to pass it on after school.
    – RalfFriedl
    Aug 27, 2019 at 5:28
  • The link I provided to the Pottermore site does go on to say that Filch's acquisition of the map is not covered, nor how the Twins discovered the "passwords" for it, but the circumstances leading to the creation of the Order of the Phoenix took priority over recovering the map, and its usefulness no longer of any importance.
    – Ben
    Aug 27, 2019 at 5:34
  • I’m not questioning whether they created the map. My question is how we know that “Marauders” ever represented a specific group of four people.
    – Alex
    Aug 27, 2019 at 12:02
  • @Alex ….because Lupin said so. He told Harry that the group made the map
    – NKCampbell
    Aug 27, 2019 at 17:42
  • @NKCampbell Did he actually say that “the Marauders” made it?
    – Alex
    Aug 27, 2019 at 18:00

The idea that James and his friends are called the marauders is pure fanon with no basis in the books. It started because some early fans didn't understand how apostrophes work and took "marauder's" to mean "marauders". It's possible that JK retconned this later in an interview, but in the original books there's no indication of "The Marauders".

edit: yes, there is mention of "The Marauders" later on, but that was in later books that came out years afterwards, long after it had become firmly established in the fandom. It wasn't in the original Azkaban book. It's a retcon.

  • 5
    Except that the very question you're answering includes a quote from the books in which they're called the Marauders.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Aug 27, 2019 at 15:05
  • @Randal'Thor, only by Ron, though, and how would he know? Aug 27, 2019 at 20:47
  • @HarryJohnston - JK has always taken great pains to have Ron corrected (either explicitly by Hermione or implicitly via events) anytime he's said anything actually wrong in-universe iirc
    – NKCampbell
    Aug 27, 2019 at 21:19
  • See my comments on Ben's answer - I argue that it can be read as being clear in the 3rd book that they are the mauraders. Also my answer cites word of god that they dubbed themselves that
    – NKCampbell
    Aug 27, 2019 at 21:20
  • 1
    @NKCampbell, oops, I'd misidentified the source of the quote, thought it was from PoA. My mistake. This was, of course, after Ron and Hermione spent quite some time off-panel in Grimmauld Place, so yes, the subject could easily have come up. Aug 27, 2019 at 22:03

Your Answer

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

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