Welcome to the refurbished name origins pages! We have now reorganised our pages into four categories for your ease.
Potions, Spells and Magical Objects
Creatures, Jobs and States of Being
Events, Places and Mottos
This page is a reference as to what some of the events, places and mottos in the Harry Potter series mean in other languages, what they might be named after, and some stories surrounding them in mythology that might have to do with the future of the Harry Potter books (we know JK Rowling used these as inspiration for names and other things in the books; maybe she'll do it again in the future books).
Special thanks to Fronskie Feint and MoHPCN for some of these origins, and to Steve from The Harry Potter Lexicon for some help with the spells.
Events, Places and Mottos
Azkaban - Sounds very similar to and description is very much the same as the American prison known as Alcatraz, located on an island off the coast of California.
Beauxbatons - French for "beautiful wands." While we do realize this actually translates as "beautiful sticks" in French, the actual term for "magic wands" being "baguettes magiques" sounds far less appealing.
Diagon Alley - Play on words. "Diagonally" refers to "a straight line at a slanted angle."
Durmstrang - "Sturm und drang" is a German phrase meaning "storm" and "stress or urge." "Sturm und Drang" was a genre of German plays that were famous for their sense of foreboding and ill-fate. Their influence even reaches into modern musical theatre, as in the title song of Little Shop of Horrors.
Grimmauld Place - "Grim Old Place" (play on words).
Gringotts - According to J.K. Rowling the famous bank comes from the word "ingot," as a reference to "an ingot of gold." She added the "Gr" to the beginning to make it sound more powerful.
Hog's Head - Pub in Hogsmeade. In Old English, a "hoggshead" was a medium-sized barrel holding fifty-four gallons of ale. Similar to the Boar's Head Tavern in Shakespeare's Henry IV.
Knockturn Alley - Nocturnally (play on words).
Little Whinging - The house on Privet Drive is in the suburb of Little Whinging. "Whinge" is a British word for "whining and complaining." That seems to be one of the Dursleys' favorite activities whether it is about Harry, the neighbors, or just the news in general.
Privet Drive - In England, a "privet" is "a very common shrub planted as hedges in suburbia." Those with privet hedges are said to conform to the suburban identity, and privets are characterized as boring and unimaginative. Dursleys anyone? "Privet" also means "prohibition." The street name could possibly be derived from the word "private."
Smeltings - The name of Dudley's school. It is the process used in producing iron ore to make it stronger and more suitable for use. Good luck with Dudders!
Toujours Pur - The Black family motto. It is French for "Always Pure." Remember that most of the Black family consider Half-Bloods to be below them.
Yule Ball - "Yule" refers to the time of the Winter Solstice, thus the reason for the dance taking place around Christmas time. "Jul" (pronounced "yul") is the Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish name for Christmas. In the Danish translation of Goblet of Fire, the Yule Ball is written as "juleballet," which means "Christmas ball or dance."
Found a name origin that isn't listed here? Send an e-mail to noah at staff dot mugglenet dot com.