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I was wondering if anyone knew of a source listing origins for the various Harry Potter names.

I know Rowling put a lot of thought into the names she used.
For example:

  • Severus was the name of a short-lived Roman Emperor who was very Severe
  • Minerva (as in McGonagal) was the Roman Goddess of Wisdom
  • Dumbledore apparently, is a word used for Bumblebees in parts of the UK and Rowling pictured the wizard walking the halls humming so she named him Dumbledore . . .
  • There are also Remus Lupin, and Sirius Black which seem more than coincidence. . .

So I was wondering if there was a source for routes for the wide variety of names she chooses - even some of the characters have historical names (such as Nicholas Flamel).

Has anyone encountered such a resource?

If not, Does anyone know the origins of the names of the kids?

I've found connections for many of the adult wizards but not for the kids and my daughter has been wondering because of the connections she recognized and then additional ones I have filled her in on as well.

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While googling, I got many reference websites for the name origins list. Muggle Net is amazing. It has every name origin for every single name used in the Harry Potter series like Characters, Potions, Places and even the state of beings...

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Here are some:

J.K. Rowling studied Classics in University, so many of her names are references to either existing mythological characters or phenomena, or they are takes on or linked to that Greco-Roman history and mythology somehow.

Godric contains the word "God" in it.

The Black family names its family after stars and constellations: Sirius (the dog star), Andromeda, Draco, Cygnus, Regulus, etc.

Narcissa is narcissistic and lives only for her family, which is what redeems her, yes, but is also a form of narcissicism. She, like the mythological character of Narcissa, is also vain. And continuing Rowling's tradition of naming the "selfless" and incredibly loving mothers and wives after flowers (Lily, Petunia, and Fleur Delacour [French for "Flower of the Court"]), she bears the name of one too.

Ginevra sounds either French or Latin (like Minerva), and she is a ginger.

Snape sounds like Snake and Snippy. Severus sounds Latinate and would mean severe.

Lupin comes from the Latin for Wolf. Remus is one of the two founders of Rome (Romulus and Remus, the twins suckling from the wolf's teets).

Fenrir Greyback is a real Norse mythological werewolf character.

Lily marries a Potter, putting her flower in his pot. Potters Fields are where the anonymous dead historically went. Evans is a pretty prototypical Welsh name. Lily is a funereal flower and represents love, sacrifice, and God's Grace, all qualities she possesses in spades.

Parvati is one of the Hindhu goddesses. Patel is a common Indian name.

Nagini comes from Naga, which is Sanskrit for snake.

Chang is a common Chinese name.

Seamus and Finnegan are both common Irish names.

Viktor is a victor, and he bears a common Eastern European name.

Siegfried of the Norse mythology has an invisibility cloak.

The locket is like the one ring from the Lord of the Rings, which is like the ring from the Norse Nibelungen, the dragon like that of Beowulf.

The dragons and trolls and goblins are like those of The Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit and originally like those of Celtic myth and Beowulf.

Kreacher sounds like creature, and Dudley is a dud.

Luna is dreamy and spacey, like a moon child and loves good, like her name. Her father loves foreigners and things from far away. Hence he is Xenophilius, the opposite of xenophobic.

Dumbledore is like Obi Wan Kenobi and Gandalf, all of whom are based on Merlin.

Harry Potter is a very Christian series, and James could be for the King James bible.

Lucius sounds like Lucifer, the fallen angel.

Harry Potter is also a very British series, so names like Harry (like the prince) and Ronald would be common (as would Bill for William, Percy for Percy Shelley, the 19th c. poet, Frederick, George [like St. George and the dragon, a British emblem and defeater of the snakelike creature and representation of evil], Charles).

Mad Eye Moody is moody.

Barty Crouch sounds as shifty as his name, crouching in wait for an opportunity.

Carrows sounds like Gallows. Alecto is also Latinate.

The spells are generally some Latinate-sounding phrase, except Avada Kedavra, which could be of Aramaic/Hebrew origin. If "Abra Kadabra" means "I create as I speak" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abracadabra), then "Avada Kedavra" might mean "I destroy as I speak".

Hermione is the name of Helen of Troy's daughter.

Cornelius is a Roman name, as are Albus and Rubeus. Ariana is as well. Aberforth sounds Celtic.

Fudge fudges things up.

Vernon comes from the root for green, and he is green with jealousy sometimes and marries a flower.

Hagrid is Scottish and sounds like the Scottish food, Haggas.

Privet Drive should be private; Spinner's End sounds poor and sound (where spinners would have lived).

Malfoy comes from the French Mal Foi for "Bad Faith."

Voldemort comes from the French Vol for flight and Mort for death, so his name means "Flight from Death," which is all he wants.

Horcrux : Hor in is dirty and Crix is cross = Dirty Cross. The other option is Hor for Outside and Crux for Soul = Outside the Soul.

King's Cross : a real station and Christian significance.

Pansy Parkinson is alliterative and a coward (pansy).

Crabbe sounds like Crab (ill-tempered).

Goyle sounds like Gargoyle.

Minerva, as you said, is the Latin version of Athena, the Goddess of Wisdom.

Hogwarts and Hogsmeade are humorous names and takes on the Celtic-Saxon names in England.

People at Beaux Baton are beautiful, and Beau- in French means beautiful.

Flitwick sounds like he flits a wick of a candle and is small and flighty.

Sprout teaches gardening and is named after sprouts.

Gryffindor comes from the Gryphon, a combination of a lion and eagle, both Kings of the Animals in numerous mythologies and in Christian symbolism, the representation of Christ (along with Phoenix and the Unicorn) and the enemy of the Snake or devil incarnate. They are related to Hippogriffs and are known for guarding treasure and telling the truth.

Mandrakes, Basilisks, Phoenixes, Unicorns, Mermaids, Banshees, Harpies, etc. are all in real European mythologies.

The Tale of the Three Brothers comes from one of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales and a Chinese myth about three brothers who meet death under a tree and succumb to Its power.

Seven is a magical number in multiple mythologies and religions, as is 12. Both, along with 13 and 31, are all over the HP series.

Ravenclaw has an eagle as its symbol, Griffyndor a lion, so together they are a Gryphon. Hufflepuff is a badger, and in real life, badgers eat snakes.

Grindelwald sounds like Buchenwald, a Concentration Camp the Nazis used. Dumbledore defeated him in 1945, the same year the Nazis lost WWII.

Ollivander sounds like olive, the branch of peace, and oliander, a beautiful but potentially poisonous flower.

Cerberus is a three-headed dog from Greco-Roman myth; Firenze is the name of Florence in Italian; Quirrel sounds like quiver and Carroll, like Lewis Carroll, and Carroll had a stutter.

McGonagall is a Scottish name; Weasley sounds liek weasle, and they are cunning; Granger is like a farmer--they are Muggles.

Tom Marvolo Riddle bears a common English name, and he is like a Riddle, himself. Tom is the name of doubting Thomas, the one who doubted Jesus, and Marvolo sounds like Italian for Marvelous--a grandiose magician's name.

Norbert is a Norse name.

In addition to the New Testament and Greco-Roman Mythology, she has influences from many other sources as well : The Lord of the Rings, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Dark is Rising, Beowulf, The Little White Horse, The Once and Future King, Le Morte d'Arthur, The Mabinogion, etc., all of which she would have read.

The story fits the archetypical Campbellian Hero's Journey.

There is so much more, but I hope this helps.

  • Umbridge is full of umbrage. – Xynariz Nov 21 '13 at 20:57
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    This answer is pretty good but contains several inaccuracies (E.g. Fenrir was a wolf, NOT werewolf). Godric is disputed (god or good). Viktor, despite being popular in Slavic world, is of Latin origin. Etc.... Also, some of these are pure speculations never confirmed by JKR (Fudge). Please fix the inaccuracies, and indicate which ones are merely guesses – DVK-on-Ahch-To Dec 18 '13 at 11:50
  • Good answer... But it always bothered me that Remus Lupin was named that from birth. Surely his parents didn't just assume he was going to become a werewolf . . . just-sayin' – Pat Dobson Dec 18 '13 at 12:49
  • "real" Norse mythological character - Oxymoron anyone? – balanced mama Jan 25 '14 at 5:26
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    @PatDobson You may probably discuss this further here. – quapka Jun 16 '14 at 21:32
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A direct answer to "if there was a source for routes for the wide variety of names she chooses" as you asked is on JKR defunct FAQs:

Where do you get your names?

I’ve always ‘collected’ – that’s to say, remembered - unusual names and finally found a use for them! I love names; sad to say, I really enjoy reading lists of them, for me it’s like casting an eye over a pile of unwrapped presents, each of the names representing a whole person. War memorials, telephone directories, shop fronts, saints, villains, baby-naming books – you name it, I’ve got names from it! I also make up names, the most popular one being ‘quidditch’, of course.

As far as lists, Accio Quote website (which posts all of JKR's interview transcripts) has a summary of all known name-related statements from JKR:

http://www.accio-quote.org/themes/names.htm

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I think I may have stumbled upon the name origins if not the inspiration for two characters: Hermione Granger and her shaggy ginger cat Crookshanks. In the 1966 movie "Munsters Go Home".
Hermione Gingold ... Lady Effigie Munster ( she is the matriarch and the brains of the English Munster clan)

John Carradine … Cruikshank (He is her bushy Ginger haired servant)

It may be a coincidence, but if so its a fantastic one.

  • Welcome to Science Fiction & Fantasy! Can you provide any sources for your answer? It is recommended that you support your answer with as much evidence to show proof your answer is valid and not just an assumption you've made. – Edlothiad May 2 '17 at 15:43
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on pottermore it talks about lyall lupin,who was a world-renowned authority on Non-Human Spirituous Apparitions. During the prelude to the First Wizarding War, the Ministry of Magic called on his expertise of Dark creatures to help contain the threat, and he eventually joined the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures.

so it is understandable he may name his son remus after legends or tales about creatures (werewolves) he may encounter during his time working with dark creatures.

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    Remus refers to the twin brother of Romulus (founders of Rome) both of whom were raised be a she-wolf according to legend. While Lupin is also clearly a reference to the animal (which I reference in my question thinking it was one of the more obvious ones). My question was really about the kid's names - but thanks. – balanced mama Jan 22 '14 at 13:16

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