Magical Names

I’ve always admired authors for their ability to make up names for their characters. In theory, it sounds easy, you can just choose a random name that sounds decent, right? Try to come up with a name that sounds as unique and badass as “Sirius Black”. I honestly don’t know how authors do it. Finding the correct name for a character can be extremely complicated, especially if you want it to be a name that belongs to your character only. J.K. Rowling was somehow able to find names that fit her characters’ personality, made them unique and still sounded decent (within the Wizarding World).

The names Rowling chose for her characters have this flair and weirdness to them that make you think “oh, right, this must be the name of a Harry Potter character”, they are strange in a way that makes you immediately relate them to her books. It’s funny how even when many of these magical names are weird and sometimes a bit over the top, they are names you’d want to come up yourself for your own characters. I love Ollivander’s surname and “Sybill Trelawney” sounds like a good pseudonym. There’s also a range of quite smart names. “Pomona Sprout”, for example, is an ideal name for someone who loves plants. “Pomona” has to do with a Roman goddess of abundance and the word itself comes from “fruit”; “sprout” is also obviously related to plants. Then you have names like “Draco Malfoy”. “Draco” means dragon in Latin, you could go as far as relating this mythical reptile with the fact that Draco belongs to Slytherin, the house of snakes. His surname, “Malfoy”, means “bad faith” in French, which also goes well with his character.

You can imagine how much dedication Rowling must have put into choosing the appropriate names for each and every one of her characters. They’re rather unique as well. You say “Albus Severus” and no one’s going to ask you “which one?”, they’re not names you hear often, or at all in the Muggle world. You could say they accomplish the function of a name better than many others like “John” or “Maria”, which are so common in certain countries it’s hard to identify the person you’re talking about. I’m not kidding, it can get really confusing. “Maria” is the most common name where I live. In one of the schools I went to every single girl in my year including me had “Maria” somewhere in her name.

That’s the kind of thing that would never happen with someone named “Xenophilius” or “Hermione”. You simply don’t meet two people with that kind of name. I guess that having a weird name can be amazing, it gives you a deeper sense of being a unique individual. However, while I respect Rowling’s ability to choose unique names I can’t help but feel a bit sorry for some of her characters, the new generation of Potters, more specifically. To us and to both Harry and Ginny names like “James Sirius”, “Albus Severus” and “Lily Luna” must have been incredible, since they represent people we admire and respect. It’s a nice gesture to name your children after these great wizards, but that doesn’t make the names sound any better, they are combinations that simply don’t work very well. Though, to be honest, if you have a surname like Potter, I very much doubt anyone would dare to make a rude comment on whatever is preceding it.

It makes me think of the way authors make names fit without any questions in the world they belong to no matter how strange they are. “Quirinus Quirrel” doesn’t stand out that much among names like “Severus Snape” and “Wilhelmina Grubbly-Plank”. But try naming one of your children “Scorpius Hyperion” in a world of “Johns” and “Marias”. These names sound amazing, in the books. Sadly, magical names don’t really work in the Muggle world, not that it stops people from giving their children weird names (no offence to anyone, my complete name is also a bit out of the normal). I guess most Muggles will just have to leave the magical names to fictional characters and settle with being “Johns” or “Marias”, which is good enough for me.