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For Top Ten Tuesday this week I am shamelessly giving you some Harry Potter spam. I’m a proud Potterhead, and I’m always happy to show my love.
Here are ten of my favorite character names from the Wizarding world. J.K. Rowling is particularly good at using root/Latin to imbue her character names with tons of meaning. I love how many hidden clues there are in all of these, and the deep thought she put into even her incidental characters.
What’s in a name? Whatever J.K. Rowling wants there to be.
1. Luna Lovegood
My favorite smol cinnamon roll! Luna means moon and hearkens back to old traditions about the moon causing crazy behavior, as well as tying in pretty easily with the word “loony”. Lovegood also describes Luna very well. Plus, it’s fun and alliterative.
2. Remus Lupin
Remember Roman history and you’ll know who Professor Lupin is WELL before Snape’s nasty reveal in book three. Remus is one of the twins in Roman mythology who was abandoned and raised by wolves, then founded Rome. Lupin comes from Lupinus which directly means, “of a wolf”. Hmm. I wonder if he could be some sort of werewolf?
3. Draco Malfoy
Draco is Latin for dragon (although fun fact, in those days they thought of dragons as really just big worms. Which . . . yeah.) Mal is a French word for bad or evil, and foi means faith. Wyrmy Badfaith, that’s our guy.
4. Ginevra Weasley
Ginevra is the Italian form of Guinevere, who is a famous queen. Although, fun fact, Ginny directly translates to virginal. She starts out as the poor innocent who is duped by Voldemort, and ends up more like the strong, badass queen six books later. Whether Rowling meant it that way I don’t know, but it’s pretty safe to assume she did.
5. Minerva McGonagall
The Latin form of the goddess Athena’s name. Athena is the goddess of wisdom, shrewd intellect, war tactics, weaving, and crafts. Plus, Athena/Minerva often befriended the Greek heroes and served as their guide/protector. That’s our McGonagall! Also, her last name is Gaelic in origin (Mag Congail) and means son of the most valorous one. She lives up to it as Voldemort is taking over and especially in the Battle of Hogwarts.
6. Severus Snape
If you’re thinking Severus sounds pretty severe, you’re right. Severus is Latin for “strict, stern, grim, terrible” and . . . “severe”. Snape is actually the name of a village and probably harks to Snape’s muggle origins, as well as making his name alliterative.
7. Ronald Bilius Weasely
As an English name Ronald is pretty common, but it comes from Old Norse. Rognvald was the name of many old Norse kings. So Ron was royal material from the start! Weasley is anyone’s guess, because the family is nothing like a weasel. It might just be a common last name that Rowling liked the sound of.
8. Dolores Umbridge
Her name comes as zero surprise and really, she’s one of the most perfectly named characters in all of the books. In Latin, “dolor” means grief, or sorrow. And Umbridge sounds a lot like the word “umbrage” which means “to take offense”. Very apt, considering that I take offense at the fact this terrible woman survived the books.
9. Bellatrix Lestrange
Bellatrix is Latin for “warrior” with the trix making it feminine. If you’re looking at astrology, it’s the third brightest star in the Orion constellation and called the conqueror star. Estrange is French for “strange, outside, foreign” and adding le as a prefix makes it a description. Someone who is from a strange/foreign place. The inside of Bellatrix’s fanatic head is definitely a foreign place.
One of the names Rowling made up just for her books and this one is a lot of fun. It comes from French, Vol de mort. It directly translates to “theft/flight of death” and Voldemort spent his entire life trying to steal himself from death or, to look at it another way, fly from death.
A lot of help came from this post by HobbyLark.com. If you’re interested in etymology I really recommend checking out her site.