In HBP, we see that the Levicorpus spell was invented by Severus Snape.

Yet, in the bullying scene that Harry sees in Professor Snape's memories in OotP, we see James Potter attacking Snape with that spell:

... James whirled about: a second flash of light later, Snape was hanging upside-down in the air, his robes falling over his head to reveal skinny, pallid legs and a pair of graying underpants.

This is indirectly confirmed in later scene where Snape snaps at Potter:

"You dare use my own spells against me, Potter? It was I who invented them — I, the Half-Blood Prince! And you'd turn my inventions on me, like your filthy father, would you? I don't think so… no!"

How did James Potter learn Levicorpus spell?

I saw mentions that Lily told Potter about the spell after having learned about it from Severus, but not sure if that's canon or just fanfic assumption (a logical one, natch).

Please note that the spell in HBP's book was marked as "nonverbal", which means even if someone observed Snape using it, chances are they wouldn't know what it was - so I don't see how it could have been learned by anyone other than whoever Snape taught it to explicitly.

(to answer a comment - yes, we don't know that it HAS to be non-verbal; but we DO know that Snape considered it non-verbal and therefor would be very unlikely to vocalize it himself)

  • 3
    I'm aware that Lupin told Harry that the spell was popular in 5th year when the incident happened, but he didn't elaborate on how they learned it. Dec 27, 2022 at 19:09
  • Do we know when Snape invented it?
    – Clockwork
    Dec 27, 2022 at 19:28
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    According to Deathly Hallows, Levicorpus doesn't have to be nonverbal, as Hermione says the spell aloud during the trio's raid on Gringotts. If Snape taught student A and Student B overheard A talking about it or saying it out loud, it could spread that way. I doubt Snape would've have taught it to everyone, just some of his fellow Slytherins at most. Dec 27, 2022 at 19:28
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    Nonverbal is probably more of a guideline than a rule tenor.com/view/…
    – user13267
    Feb 13, 2023 at 4:13
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    Re common fanfic assumptions: In my (admittedly somewhat limited) experience with Harry Potter fanfics, the typical assumption is not that Lily (necessarily) told Potter, but rather that it is functionally impossible to keep secrets at Hogwarts, and so questions of the form "who told X about Y?" are simultaneously irrelevant trivia and awesomely complex to answer (because you'd have to trace it back through the rumor mill). In other words, fanfic authors basically assume that everyone is talking to everyone all the time, and gossiping about every subject under the sun.
    – Kevin
    Feb 18, 2023 at 7:41

1 Answer 1


How did James Potter learn Levicorpus spell?

There is no explanation for why he knows it. However, there are a few possibilities that (while not confirmed) are reasonable and even likely explanations for why he knows the spell.

  1. It is well known that James Potter and his friends picked on Severus. It is possible that they somehow found and stole/straight up took the book in which Severus wrote the spell.
  2. Another possibility is that Severus and his friends had used the spell a bit too much, word got around, and some people figured out how the spell worked by noticing that, first of all, the spell is nonverbal (and Severus' skill was probably not high enough to be able to cast a verbal spell silently at that point), and that all they had to do then was watch Severus' hand movements.
  3. A third (though somewhat less likely (though definitely more likely when you remember that Hogwarts is a school, and gossip will flow)) possibility is that Severus told his friends how to use the spell, his friends told their friends, who told their friends, and so on and so forth until, finally, word of Levicorpus reaches the ears of James Potter and his friends, who (maybe bored and with nothing to do) decide that it'll be great fun to use one of Snape's own spells against him.
  • Do you have evidence for any of your theories?
    – DavidW
    Jan 17 at 2:15
  • @DavidW Not really, but it’s not hard to imagine them happening. It’s mostly a theoretical question anyway, since there is no mention of how James learnt the spell in the first place, so theoretical answers will likely be the only answers.
    – Daemons
    Jan 17 at 4:06

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