Learn The Secret Meanings Behind Your Favorite 'Harry Potter' Names

We solemnly swear she was up to good when she named 'em all.

When it came to her precious "Harry Potter" characters, J.K. Rowling definitely got creative while naming most members of her cast of spellcasters.

Sure, the titular boy wizard had a pretty plain name himself -- and those Weasleys did well to stay on the level of ordinary when naming their slew of red-headed younguns -- but a lot of these people have names we hadn't even heard of before we read about the kids at Hogwarts.

But there was a method to all her monikering mischief, friends, and we've got a few theories about the potential hidden meanings behind some of them.

All we can say is: J.K. Rowling truly is an evil genius. And somehow we love even more now.

Nymphadora Tonks:


Harry Potter Nymphadora Tonks

If you don't already know the common understanding of what a nymph is, um, that's probably a conversation you should have with your parents. But that's not the reference we're going for here, anyway. Originally, the term meant beautiful woman, and it could also refer to a bug baby that has to metamorphose. Coupling these two definitions, it's perfect for her, since she was a young woman who changed her appearance and attitude throughout the series. Poof!

Draco Malfoy:


Harry Potter Draco Malfoy

Draco might be a reference to Draconian measures, which basically means harsh actions. Way true for him. And the "Mal" in Malfoy is obviously a throwback to the Latin word root which means bad or evil. Which ... you can probably see where that'd be appropriate for him. "Foy" is close to the French "foi," which means "faith." Bad faith? Faith in evil? We'll take it.

Lucius Malfoy:


Harry Potter Lucius Malfoy

Also bearing the bad seed surname is Lucius Malfoy, which is awful close to Lucifer (a.k.a. THE DEVIL) but is also Latin for "light." Which explains the white-blonde 'do, we guess?

Narcissa Malfoy:


Harry Potter Narcissa Malfoy

Narcissa was kind of full of herself (and especially her family lineage). Which makes sense because her name is pretty close to Narcissus, who in Greek mythology drowned after falling in love with his own reflection in a pool of water. While she wasn't spending all her page and screen time staring in a mirror, she did seem pretty high on her own horse, so it makes sense.

Bellatrix LeStrange:


Harry Potter Bellatrix Lestrange

Emphasis on the Strange, yeah? Also, a lot of people think of Bella as a term of beauty in Italian, which is true, but it also actually stems from the word for "battles" in Latin. Which makes more sense in the context of this witchy witch. And then there's the "trix" part, which is also appropriate considering she was quite tricksy and not in a for-kids kinda way.

Remus Lupin:


Harry Potter Remus Lupin

Another character name, another reference to the antiquities. This time, it's of Romulus and Remus, the two bros who are said to have built Rome (but not in a day). The fun and possibly relevant factoid about that reference is that the ancient Remus was said to have been nursed by a she-wolf. So, symbolism? Maybe? Meanwhile, the term Lupin is a dead giveaway to this professor's other life because it's one letter off from lupine, which is a direct reference to a wolf-like thing. She basically gave that one away.

Pomona Sprout:


Harry Potter Pomona Sprout GIF

Come on. An Herbology professor with the name Sprout? Too easy. And and and, Pomona was the Roman goddess of fruit and nut trees. Boom. Or should we say bloom?

Nicholas Flamel:


Harry Potter Nicholas Flamel

Flamel minus one "L" is flame, which ... wasn't he way into alchemy? As in, forging the Philosopher's/Sorcerer's Stone? Yeah, we see what you did there, Jo.

Luna Lovegood:


Harry Potter Luna Lovegood

"Luna" is a direct reference to the moon, and if there's anything we can say about Young Miss Lovegood it's that her mind was truly out of this world.

Albus Dumbledore:


Harry Potter Albus Dumbledore

Get this: "Albus" is Latin for white, which is often a symbol for good or purity (as opposed to the Dark Lord, obvs) and "Dumbledore" is an English dialect word for bumblebee, apparently. Which is kind of a beautiful analogy for our beloved headmaster because bees pollinate flowers so that they can bloom and bear fruit (kind of like he did by spreading his wisdom amongst his students).

Dudley Dursley:


Harry Potter Dudley Dursley

Per Nameberry, Dudley means "Dudda's meadow." And we're not sure how much more on-point that could possibly be for this blithering little toad of a boy. Plus, the last name has "dur" in it which stems from the Germanic word for hard and difficult. Correct.

Fenrir Greyback:


Harry Potter Fenrir Greyback

The name Fenrir is a medieval throwback to Norse mythology and this horrifying wolf monster that slaughters kids. Duh. And Greyback is just an adjective to describe animals with, you guessed it, grey backs.

Rubeus Hagrid:


Harry Potter Rubeus Hagrid

Hagrid is pretty similar to the adjective haggard, which can mean wild and unruly in appearance. Which he most definitely is. Get it?

Minerva McGonagall:


Harry Potter Minerva McGonagall

It's quite fitting that Professor McGonagall was named after the Roman goddess of wisdom and poetry and -- wait for it -- MAGIC. Seriously. How did we not notice this before?

Viktor Krum:

Harry Potter Viktor Krum

Obviously the Viktor portion is a wink to his tendency to win stuff, which is exactly what this Tri-Wizard champion was born and bred to do. Plus, the Krum part is homage to the Bulgarian khan who was also quite intimidating to any and all competitors. Same.

Hermione Granger:


Harry Potter Hermione Granger GIF

Like so many others in the pantheon of "Potter" people, Hermione's name is also of mythological origin. This time, the name means messenger, which is very befitting of our clever little wizardette because she's always delivering some knowledge to her less informed classmates. Fo sho. As for her last name, well, there's some significance there too. Granger, as a noun, means a farm steward, which is a very Muggle-y type of profession indeed.

Sirius Black:

Warner Bros

Harry Potter Sirius Black GIF

Sirius is the name of the brightest star visible from the earth. Infer what you will. SIGH. Also worth noting: it's called the Dog Star. Well, hello there, Padfoot.

Severus Snape:


Harry Potter Severus Snape

We're seeing a couple of things here with this name. Firstly, there was a real-life Roman emperor named Severus whose lineage was also split -- so, he was half-blood, in a sense. Plus, there's the fact that he literally severed us in two at the end there because "always." CRY.



Harry Potter Voldemort GIF

So, if you break it down -- it's a RIDDLE, you see! -- the name Voldemort comes out as Vol-de-mort, which is French for flight of death. And, duh, dude's tried to rip the Grim Reaper off for ages with all this Horcrux business, didn't he?

Any others that you can think of? Hit the comments with your submissions to this little "Harry Potter" name meaning lexicon if you've got some pearls of wisdom to add, Potterphiles!

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