light-1157952_960_720If you’ve read Harry Potter, you still probably fondly remember many of the stories, characters and the many magical things from the series! If you thought that the books can’t get more awesome – wait till we show you the background of some of the names and spells in the book and how they bear meaning in everyday use. In this article we will relive some of the Harry Potter magic and also look at how J.K. Rowling so cleverly gave these magical things names to make them mean what they mean!

Here are a list of 5 words from the magical world of Harry Potter – and the muggle words they were derived from (and what they mean to us).


Professor Remus Lupin (Moony)

One of James’ (Harry’s dad) closest friends, Harry’s favourite teachers and a very short lived Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher at Hogwarts, Professor Remus Lupin was a known werewolf. His nickname “moony” pokes at this fact, but did you know that his actual name does too?

The word Lupine means wolf like! Similar to the words ‘piscine’ (fish like) and ‘bovine’ (cow like). His name Lupin(e), therefore, literally means ‘like a wolf’!



The veritaserum as seen in Harry Potter, is the truth serum that will make anyone spill their innermost truths. Most famously quoted by Snape: “Three drops of this and even You-Know-Who himself would spill out his darkest secrets. The use of it on a student is — regrettably — forbidden.”

The word veritaserum has its root in muggle language. Veritas mean truth.

Now, this word makes so much sense does it not?

Other words that use the root veritas:

  • veracious – speaking or representing the truth
  • veracity – being true, accurate; habitually truthful
  • verify – demonstrate that something is true
  • verisimilitude – the appearance of being true or real


Avada Kedavra

One of the ‘unforgivable’ curses in the wizarding world, the Avada Kedavra is the killing curse and kills anyone cursed instantly. Harry Potter was one of the few who survived this curse.

When you look at the spell, the second part looks a lot like the word ‘cadaver’. The word cadaver in English means a dead body or a corpse. Another word that you might come across is ‘cadaverous’, which means ‘very pale, thin, or bony’; to resemble someone who is dying.

Avada Kedavra, is most probably hinting at the word cadaver (suggesting that one cursed by it might become a cadaver as a result?).



In the Harry Potter world, a pensieve is a basin like object that is used to review memories.

Dumbledore explains the pensieve: “I use the Pensieve. One simply siphons the excess thoughts from one’s mind, pours them into the basin, and examines them at one’s leisure. It becomes easier to spot patterns and links, you understand, when they are in this form.”

In essence it’s something that helps wizards think deeply about something. This is essentially what the word pensive means!

Pensive, as defined by the dictionary, means to be engaged in reflection of deep or serious thought.



The Patronus is described as one of the most powerful and beautiful defense spells in the wizarding world that can be conjured by only the most skilled wizard. It is also the only protection spell that can keep you safe from dementors!

‘Patronus’ sounds an awful lot like the word ‘parton’. There is a very good reason for that.
The word patron refers to a person who provides support and assistance. A parton is someone who’s got your back! Isn’t that true about a patronus as well?


Now you know that Harry Potter even makes your GRE preparation fun!

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