In "Could Harry Potter Have Given Draco Malfoy Draco's Wand Back?", it was postulated that:

Wands may be at least partially sentient: "The wand chooses the wizard."

Is there any in-universe (including statements by JKR) information to either prove or disprove this statement? (e.g. that wandlore somehow implies at least partial sentience of wands)

As it is, the quote used merely seems to be a verbal expression that best describes a specific rule of wandlore which, underneath, is governed by some other reasons than actual sentience.

For example:

  • Wand "choosing" its first owner via some magical force resonance (for Muggle equivalence, imagine a gun with a processor and sensor that can measure the grip strength/hand measurement of its user. Or heck, swordsmen fight better with specific swords that are perfect for their body/build/training).

  • Wand obeying a winner - the resonance being affected by the win in a duel somehow.

  • I would venture to say that just about any magical implement has some degree of smarts in it. The Sword of Gryffindor, for instance, has it own ideas about who owns it.
    – EvilSnack
    Commented May 16, 2020 at 5:54

2 Answers 2


Well, I will go back to the quote I mentioned in response to your comment in my post on Harry giving Draco his wand back:

[...] Of course the manner of taking [the wand] matters. Much also depends on the wand itself. In general, however, where a wand has been won, its allegiance will change."

"[...] You talk about wands like they've got feelings," said Harry, "like they can think for themselves."

"The wand chooses the wizard," said Ollivander. "That much has always been clear to those of us who have studied wandlore."

"A person can still use a wand that hasn't chosen them, though?" asked Harry.

"Oh yes, if you are any wizard at all you will be able to channel your magic through almost any instrument. The best results, however, must come where there is strongest affinity between wizard and wand. The connections are complex. An initial attraction, and then a mutual quest for experience, the wand learning from the wizard, the wizard from the wand." Deathly Hallows - Pages 493 - 494 - US Hardcover

As to a wand better obeying a master after being won, I can offer:

"So I should use this one?" said Ron, pulling Wormtail's wand out of his pocket and handing it to Ollivander.

"Chestnut and dragon heartstring. Nine-and-a-quarter inches. Brittle. I was forced to make this shortly after my kidnapping, for Peter Pettigrew. Yes, if you won it, it is more likely to do your bidding, and do it well, than another wand,"

"And this holds true for all wands, does it?" asked Harry.

"I think so," replied Ollivander, his protruberant eyes upon Harry's face. "You ask deep questions, Mr. Potter. Wandlore is a complex and mysterious branch of magic." Deathly Hallows - Page 494 - US Hardcover


The core of the Elder Wand is a Thestral tail hair, which is a tricky core to handle. In the instance of Voldemort versus Harry as true master of the Elder Wand, Harry's ability to face death affected the "resonance" of the Elder Wand, which enabled him to master the Elder Wand. Voldemort, unable to face death, could not have produced the "resonance" necessary to truly master the Elder Wand. Harry dueled Voldemort and won the Elder Wand (of which he was already master), because Voldemort's inability to face death disallowed him from mastering the Elder Wand. Harry's magic, or "resonance", is different from Voldemort's, which allowed Harry to do what Voldemort could not.


There's the matter of Harry fixing his holly and phoenix wand with the Elder Wand:

"[...] I am sorry, very sorry, but a wand that has suffered this degree of damage cannot be repaired by any means that I know of." -- Ollivander - Deathly Hallows - Page 493 - US Hardcover

Followed by:

He rummaged in the pouch hung around his neck, and pulled out the two halves of holly still just connected by the finest thread of phoenix feather. Hermione had said that they could not be repaired, that the damage was too severe. All he knew was that if this did not work, nothing would.

He laid the broken wand upon the headmaster's desk, touched it with the tip of the Elder Wand, and said, "Reparo."

As his wand resealed, red sparks flew out of its end. Harry knew that he had succeeded. He picked up the holly and phoenix wand and felt a sudden warmth in his fingers, as though wand and hand were rejoicing at their reunion. Deathly Hallows
- Page 748 - US Hardcover

Ollivander was clear that nothing he knew of would fix a wand as damaged as Harry's holly and phoenix wand was. Yet, Harry fixed his wand using his magic channeled through the Elder Wand, which he won. Harry could not have healed his wand without becoming master of the Elder Wand and channeling that powerful magic that comes from that particular wand.

Further, the following information is available in Tales of Beedle the Bard:

[...] A full century later, another unpleasant character, this time named Godelot, advanced the study of Dark Magic by writing a collection of dangerous spells with the help of a wand he described as 'my most wicked and subtle friend, with bodie of Ellhorn [an old name for Elder], who knows ways of magick most evile'. (Magick Moste Evile became the title of Godelot's masterwork.)

As can be seen, Godelot considers his wand to be a helpmeet, almost an instructor. Those who are knowledgeable about wandlore [like myself - JKR] will agree that wands do indeed absorb the expertise of those who use them, though this is an unpredictable and imperfect business; one must consider all kinds of additional factors, such as the relationship between the wand and the user, to understand who well it is likely to perform with any particular individual. Nevertheless, a hypothetical wand that had passed through the hands of many Dark wizards would be likely to have, at the very least, a marked affinity for the most dangerous kinds of magic.

Most witches and wizards prefer a wand that has 'chosen' them to any kind of second-hand wand, precisely because the latter is likely to have learned habits from its previous owner that might not be compatible with the new user's style of magic.

Tales of Beedle the Bard - Pages 169 - 171 - Collectors Edition

So, yes, to answer the question, I think wands are at least partially sentient. And I discern that a wizard's ability to face death factors into their magical capabilities, when it comes to mastering the Elder Wand. I speak only to the Elder Wand as my example.

ETA: I wanted to point out that the original question asked if "wandlore somehow implies at least partial sentience of wands." The examples I have provided do imply the possibility of sentience or partial sentience on the part of wands, which I believe is consistent with the OP's request. Just wanted to clarify that.

ETA 2: While answering the question on Dumbledore not bequeathing the Elder Wand to anyone, I realized this bit is relevant to this post:

The Elder Wand has never been destroyed or buried, but has survived to accumulate wisdom, strength and power far beyond the ordinary.

Tales of Beedle the Bard -- Page 170 -- Collector's Edition

ETA: WORD OF GOD! 01.21.12 "JKR: Essentially, I see wands as being quasi-sentient. I think they awaken to a kind of- They’re not exactly animate, but they’re close to it, as close to it as you can get in an object, because they carry so much magic. So that’s really the key point about a wand." JK Rowling - Pottercast 01.02.08 - The Leaky Cauldron

  • 1
    I can't say I agree with the last 2/3rds of the answer as convincing, but the first quote ("a mutual quest for experience, the wand learning from the wizard") comes somewhat close. I'm still able to easily conceive of easy ways in which this is simply anthropomorphising some perfectly non-sentient magical properties, but at least it sounds a lot less like simple anthropomorphism Commented Dec 22, 2011 at 19:17
  • 2
    Just to illustrate - think of a predictive keyboard apps on modern smartphones. Zero "sentience", yet they learn words as they are used by the user, and bind their behavior to that user. You can't effectively use another person's Swype if you're used to your own custom predictions. I should probably poste this as an actual answer ;) Commented Dec 22, 2011 at 19:20
  • 1
    Well, your question was "Is there any in-universe (including statements by JKR) information to either prove or disprove this statement? (e.g. that wandlore somehow implies at least partial sentience of wands)" and I simply gave you canon examples. To extrapolate wands to smartphones moves us from JKR's wizarding universe to real life, which places a person trying to answer this question in a no-win situation. You can throw in comparisons from real life, but your question was about Potterverse and you asked for canon examples. That said, you're certainly free to NOT see wands as sentient. :) Commented Dec 22, 2011 at 19:29
  • 1
    oh, you have the correct examples. I just don't think that they can be interpreted unequivocally as leading to "sentient" conclusion as opposed to "figure of speach amthropomorphising things" concluson Commented Dec 22, 2011 at 23:22
  • 2
    When the smartphones start choosing the Muggles, I might be swayed by the anthropomorphism position ;) (I kid, I kid. . . ) Commented Dec 23, 2011 at 5:10

There is nothing that really indicates that a wand has any sentience. Rather that a wand is attuned to an individual. Much like a musical instrument each person has a preferred setting. In Harry Potter wands are magical and so the attuning takes place in a different manner.

During the choosing process the wand is initially set up. But as the wand is used it bonds with its user. When a wand is lost in combat that skews the magic of the wand and brings the wand in tune with its new master.

I would expect that the act of giving the wand back would initiate some reattuning to the old master though the bond and link would not be as strong as it was before the wand was lost.

  • This doesn't account for the wand somehow "knowing" that its user lost another wand in a battle at which the particular wand was not present.
    – Random832
    Commented Dec 22, 2011 at 19:14
  • @Random832 - I have no idea what you are referring to with that.
    – Chad
    Commented Dec 22, 2011 at 19:35
  • IIRC, Draco lost "ownership" of the Elder Wand when Harry disarmed him of his normal wand [he did not have the EW with him at the time]. The EW magically knew this had happened.
    – Random832
    Commented Dec 25, 2011 at 7:57
  • @Random832 - That is never spelled out explicitly in canon. Some suspect that. I suspect it more the fact that harry took it from its owner directly. That would have a stronger affect even in theory.
    – Chad
    Commented Dec 28, 2011 at 14:29
  • Never spelled out explicitly? Malfoy disarms Dumbledore while Harry is Frozen. (The Elder Wand now "belongs" to Malfoy unless Dumbledore can regain it or someone more definitively defeats Dumbledore.) Dumbledore is killed by Snape at Dumbledore's request (no conquest). The Elder Wand is entombed with Dumbledore's body. The next wizard to handle the Deathstick (apart from the burial procedure, etc.) was Voldemort; the wand still "belonged" to Malfoy for most of that period, until Malfoy was disarmed by Harry (while the Deathstick was still entombed), whereupon Harry became its master. Commented Aug 30, 2014 at 1:06

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