What the question says... Is the concept of "apparition" (as a means of transport from one place to another) introduced by the Harry Potter novels or did it exist prior to it ?

Googling for "apparition" sans Harry Potter provides ghosts and such but nothing else that's relevant.

  • 5
    Are you wondering about the word, using magic to teleport, being able to go from 1 place to another instantly? Teleporting by magic or tech is not new or unique to Harry Potter. Calling it 'apparition' is unique, I believe.
    – Himarm
    Commented May 12, 2015 at 19:45
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    Huh? tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TeleportationTropes
    – Valorum
    Commented May 12, 2015 at 19:49
  • @Himarm - I took the liberty of editing your comment to make it clearer what you're asking.
    – Valorum
    Commented May 12, 2015 at 19:50
  • 1
    @Richard lol thanks, i like to just spew words and walk away, sometimes my words don't make sense :(.
    – Himarm
    Commented May 12, 2015 at 20:13
  • @Himarm: I mean.. Using the word to signify teleportation...
    – user96551
    Commented May 13, 2015 at 1:23

3 Answers 3


Apparition, from its Latin base, simply means to appear, if suddenly. This can be seen in many definitions and dictionaries.

a supernatural appearance of a person orthing, especially a ghost; a specter orphantom; wraith. Dictionary.reference.com

ap·pa·ri·tion Origin late Middle English (in the sense ‘the action of appearing’): from Latin apparitio(n-) ‘attendance,’ from the verb apparere 

The meaning of apparition in Harry Potter isn't really about the actual travel, but how they disappear and appear suddenly, as if into/out of nowhere.

While it hasn't been used in most media, the Harry Potter usage is in line with the basic definition, and could be called teleporting if Harry Potter was scifi, but since it's fantasy, it needs a spooky twist.

  • Teleportation also exist in fantasy. And this includes the spell (and concept) in D&D. But Rowling does like to create her own words (and in this case it describes the event as the person teleports out and also teleports in) and she uses bastardised Latin as part of that. I would then say it isn't to do with sci-fi or fantasy so much as she wanted it unique. And afaik it is.
    – Pryftan
    Commented Jul 11, 2017 at 18:31

It's apparation not apparition. See for example in the Order of the Phoenix chapter 7 when Harry is viting the Ministry of Magic:

The doors closed, the lift juddered upward again, and the woman’s voice said, “Level six, Department of Magical Transport, in­corporating the Floo Network Authority, Broom Regulatory Control, Portkey Office, and Apparation Test Center.”

I've never come across the term apparation in any other book. It's not in my (Concise) OED so I'd guess it's a term J. K. Rowling made up.

  • I believe apparition is a real word, but not just used for teleportation prior to Harry Potter books
    – user13267
    Commented May 13, 2015 at 12:48
  • 1
    – user13267
    Commented May 13, 2015 at 12:48
  • apparation - guessing its a made up word. apparition on the other hand is somehting like a ghost is it not? Commented May 13, 2015 at 14:14
  • @user13267: It's apparation not apparition. Commented May 13, 2015 at 14:14
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    @JohnRennie I admit I'd never noticed the spelling before, but it does seem to be inconsistent. For example, Deathly Hallows, chapter 19 (p. 298 in the UK/Bloomsbury edition): “The night reached such a depth of velvety blackness that he might have been suspended in limbo between Disapparition and Apparition.” The verb is of course more common than the noun, but I wonder if Rowling consciously decided to use the made-up apparation and just forgot sometimes (or it was ‘corrected’ in proofreading). Commented May 14, 2015 at 13:11

This is not a made-up concept found solely in Harry Potter; it is in fact embedded in the myths of many cultures. J.K. Rowling actually used a great deal of cultural diversity and word play in her writing. Many old stories about witches include apparation/apparition.

  • 3
    This answer would be improved if you could cite examples of those stories you mention Commented Jun 7, 2015 at 20:02

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