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Word Sources:
Names, Words, and Phrases

"Call him Voldemort, Harry. Always use the proper name for things. Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself."
     -- Albus Dumbledore (PS17)

Where does the name "Hogwarts" come from?
JKR said in an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald (Oct 28, 2001):

"Ideas come from all sorts of places and sometimes I don't realise where I got them from. A friend from London recently asked me if I remembered when we first saw Hogwarts. I had no idea what she was talking about until she recalled the day we went to Kew Gardens and saw those lilies that were called Hogwarts. I'd seen them seven years before and they'd bubbled around in my memory. When Hogwarts occurred to me as a name for the school, I had no idea where it came from."

Where did Rowling get the name Harry Potter?

"Harry" has always been my favourite boy's name, so if my daughter had been a son, he would have been Harry Rowling. Then I would have had to choose a different name for "Harry" in the books, because it would have been too cruel to name him after my own son. "Potter" was the surname of a family who used to live near me when I was seven years old and I always liked the name, so I borrowed it." (Sch2)

Sources for other names of people:
Many notes about the sources of names are included on the list of Witches and Wizards, and Chocolate Frog cards pages.

Sources of spell names and words:
The root words for the various spell words are included in the Encyclopedia of Spells.

About word sources: (comments by J. K. Rowling)

"I am a bit of a name freak. A lot of the names that I didn't invent come from maps. Snape is a place name in Britain. Dumbledore means -- dumbledore is an old English dialect word for bumblebee, because he is a musical person. And I imagine him humming to himself all the time. Hagrid is also an old English word. Hedwig was a saint, a Medieval saint. I collect them. You know, if I hear a good name, I have got to write it down. And it will probably crop up somewhere."
     -- J. K. Rowling (Larry King Live, October 20, 2000)

I invented the names of the Houses on the back of an airplane sick bag! This is true. I love inventing names, but I also collect unusual names, so that I can look through my notebook and choose one that suits a new character.
     -- J. K. Rowling (Sch1)

Q: How did you make the spells? Did you make them up, or are they real names of people and places?
A: The spells are made up. I have met people who assure me, very seriously, that they are trying to do them, and I can assure them, just as seriously, that they don't work.
     -- J. K. Rowling (Sch2)

If you want to delve into the etymology of the words, names, and phrases in the Harry Potter universe, you need to visit WEB LINKWhat's In A Name. The editor of this excellent site, Ellie Rosenthal, has created the ultimate HP etymological resource.

For more information about word origins and sources, check the other web sites listed on the resources page.


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