In Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, they explicitly talk about the Pseudo-Latin as a way to control magic. I've also noticed Greek, as in:

Spoilers, Chapter 111

When Voldemort is performing the ritual to revive Hermione, the obelisks speak this chant: "Apokatastethi, apokatastethi, apokatastethi to soma mou emoi." With some Google Translate magic, this appears to be: "Aποκαταστήσει, αποκαταστήσει, αποκαταστήσει to σώμα μου εμοί", which means "Restore to me my body" or something similar. I don't speak Greek, so excuse any crudeness here.

What other incantations have been used that are in an alternate language?

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    I don’t speak Greek either, or recognize all the languages, so I can’t answer. I just want to point out a better translation, defined by one closer to what the author had in mind instead of one which translates the Greek better (again, I can’t judge), would be to translate “αποκαταστήσει” as “bring back”, giving a full translation of “Bring back, bring back, bring back my body to me (to me)”. This is a reference to the song My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean. Not speaking Greek, I don’t know if this is better than Google Translate’s suggestion of “Φέρτε πίσω το σώμα μου για μένα (για μένα)”.
    – Daniel H
    Mar 3, 2015 at 21:39
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    Indeed. Classical Languages B.A. here, it is pig Greek for "Bring my Body Back to Me." I started laughing when I read it, because to the English ear it is so arcane, but I suppose dead or rare languages are perfect for spells. Even in Late Republic Rome they would curse in Oscan.
    – user43133
    Mar 17, 2015 at 17:57
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    A note on the Greek: it’s Ancient Greek (not Modern Greek), and the exact form is not ἀποκαταστήσει apokatastḗsei, which is the 3rd singular future active indicative (‘he will reinstate/rehabilitate’); rather—and more appropriately—it is ἀποκαταστῆθι apokatastē̂thi, which is the 2nd singular root aorist imperative (‘reinstate/rehabilitate [now, just this once]’). The full Ancient Greek would be Ἀποκαταστῆθι, ἀποκαταστῆθι, ἀποκαταστῆθι τὸ σῶμα μου ἐμοί (ἐμοί). @Daniel The translation given by Google is Modern Greek and literally means ‘bring my body backwards to me’. Feb 17, 2016 at 0:44
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    Janus Bahs Jacquet is scifi.se's Jon Skeet. He speaks Ancient Greek fluently. He can out-translate Google.
    – user32390
    Feb 17, 2016 at 8:28
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    @Mathias Out-translating Google is not particularly difficult. Google is a terrible translator. ;-) Feb 23, 2016 at 14:38

2 Answers 2


Some of the spells used are different languages, while others are references to other forms of media.

Other languages

  • Ma-ha-su (first appears pg 203) - The spell being called the Sumerian Simple Strike Hex implies the language is supposed to be Sumerian. Unfortunately, Google Translate's lack of support for ancient Mesopotamian languages makes this difficult to check. An Indian temple includes the word Mahasu in its name, referring to the name of a family of deities the temple is dedicated to, implying it may actually be Hindi, but that could just be a coincidence. (Thanks to slebetman)
  • Runes on the mirror (pg 1761) - You probably already knew this, but these are just English backwards with the spaces in different spots, just like on the Mirror of Erised in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Reversed, it says:

    "I show not your face but your coherent extrapolated volition."

  • Eunoe (pg 1887) - This spell, apparently used to reverse the effects of a Memory Charm, is a reference to the fifth river of the dead in Greek mythology. A person passing through it would have "the memories of their good deeds in life strengthened." The name is presumably derived from Greek "eu-," meaning "good" and "noe," meaning "mind."

Pop culture references

  • Gom jabbar (pg 381) - Gom jabbar is the name of a test in Dune in which the subject's hand is exposed to great pain as a test of humanity, similar to its use as a torture spell applied to the hand in HPMOR.
  • Lagann (first appears pg 572) - The incantation for the Breaking Drill Hex is a reference to the anime Gurren Lagann, known for the prevalence of drills as the primary weapon of a number of major characters, among other significance.
  • Dulak (pg 735) - This spell (or perhaps command word) is used to turn off a Continual Light spell on a crystal globe. It also does the same thing with the magical light from the Staff of Magius carried by Raistlin Majere (among others) in the Dragonlance series of novels.
  • Sagitta Magica (pg 1422) - While Latin for "magical arrow", the way it's used implies a reference to the spell of the same name from the Negima series of manga and anime, where it has a similar effect of creating numerous arrows of light. (Thanks to Janus Bahs Jacquet)
  • Fal. Tor. Pan. (pg 1792) - Fal-Tor-Pan is the name of a Vulcan ritual in Star Trek used to reunite a Vulcan's katra (i.e. spirit) with his body. (Thanks to Stefan)


  • Hyakuju Montauk (pg 1782) - 百十 (ひゃくじゅう) hyakujū is 110 in Japanese. This makes the incantation translate to "110-Montauk," which is a reference to a...containment procedure for SCP-231. (Caution: page vaguely references some potentially-triggering topics.)

Those are all the ones I have at the moment. I'm in the middle of rereading the book at the time this answer was posted, so I'll add any others I notice and figure out as I come to them.

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    From the Wikipedia link it appears that Mahasu is the name of a Hindu god (that the British once tried to ban because of heavy financial demands made to its followers)
    – slebetman
    Feb 17, 2016 at 10:40
  • @slebetman Ah! Thank you. I was half-asleep when I wrote this answer, and didn't look too closely at the pages for things I didn't already know about. Added to the answer, though I left out the British relation because it didn't seem connected to its use in the story at all. Feb 17, 2016 at 15:24
  • I don’t think the Hindi deities are relevant here. I know very little of Sumerian (I’m only familiar with the occasional Sumerogram in Hittite), but it appears that mahāşu is the Akkadian word for ‘strike, beat’, represented in Sumerian by the any of the cuneiform signs sig₃,₁₀,₁₁,₁₈, sag₂,₃, sì, sè, most commonly 𒉺 sag₃ it seems. That would fit the name “Sumerian Simple Strike Hex” rather well (apart from the fact that it’s really the Akkadian reading of a Sumerian sign, rather than the actual Sumerian word). Feb 23, 2016 at 15:15
  • Conversely, unless my Sanskrit is worse that I think it is, महासू Mahāsū literally just means ‘the Great Good’ (mahā- ‘great’, as in mahārājaḥ ‘great king’; and su- ‘good’, as in su-ásti-ka ‘well-being’ = swastika), which wouldn’t fit nearly as squarely with the name given to the spell. Feb 23, 2016 at 15:23
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    Heh. And here I was assuming that "Eunoe" was supposed to be a bad pun along the lines of "Eunoe who you are, Hermione. Eunoe who I am, Harry. Eunoe you know, you know, you know...."
    – FuzzyBoots
    Feb 23, 2016 at 15:45

The Hyajuku Montauk is 110-Montauk in Japanese, and Fal-Tor-Pan is from star trek, and that one spell Mad-Eye used, "Sagitta Magica" is from an Anime.

  • 1
    Sagitta magica is just Latin (‘magical arrow’), though. And if it’s supposed to be 110 in Japanese, I think you mean hyakujū, not hyajuku, which has no discernable meaning that I’m aware of in Japanese. Feb 17, 2016 at 0:29
  • Sagitta Magica is likely to be a reference to the D&D spell magic missile, which in older editions could produce more than one arrow.
    – Rad80
    May 2, 2018 at 13:18

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