One of the reasons that the “Harry Potter” books can be read over and over again is because of how many details are in J.K . Rowling’s universe. Take, for instance, her character names.
In her early notes for the series, she came up with 40 names to use for Hogwarts students. They’re often alliterative, whimsical, and have a kind of Latin-based stodginess to them. The names, as with Rowling’s magical spells, have specific linguistic and historical roots that say something about how she thinks about her characters.
She kept up this tradition with her subsequent works, including those in the “Harry Potter” universe, like the movie “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” and the play “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.”
Here are the meanings behind 46 names from the “Harry Potter” universe.
FOLLOW US: INSIDER is on Facebook
Harry Potter’s name is all about his leadership qualities.
The last name “potter” is a common English, Dutch, and northern German name that refers to, well, people who make pots. “Harry,” though, is Middle English version of the name “Henry,” according to Pottermore, which is a name taken by many kings of England. It’s a nod at his role as a leader in the wizarding community.
Ronald Bilius Weasley’s name refers to his status as Harry’s sidekick.
The name “Ronald” is an anglicized name derived from the Old Norse name “Rögnvaldr,” which refers to a ruler’s adviser. That’s the role Ron somewhat plays in the series, as Harry’s sidekick.
“Bilius” — who is also Ron’s uncle — sounds like the word “bilious,” which means “full of bile.” That could refer to a liver disorder, but it also sometimes means “ill-tempered,” in a reference to the four temperaments of the Greek humors, which is more likely. Ron isn’t exactly emotionally mature.
As for “Weasley,” it sounds a lot like “weasel,” which isn’t a popular animal. Rowling herself likes them, though. In a now-deleted post on her website, she wrote that “since childhood I have had a great fondness for the family mustelidae; not so much malignant as maligned, in my opinion.”
Hermione Jean Granger’s name is more a reflection of her parents than her own personality.
Rowling got the name “Hermione” from William Shakespeare’s “A Winter’s Tale,” but she doesn’t think her character and Shakespeare’s version have much in common. She said the name is a reflection of her parents, “a pair of professional dentists, who liked to prove how clever they were.” The name itself is older than that — Hermione is the daughter of Helen of Troy and King Menelaus in Greek mythology.
Rowling also made sure the name was uncommon because she “didn’t want a lot of fairly hard-working little girls to be teased if ever the book was published.”
At some point in drafting the books, Rowling changed Hermione’s middle name. In the books, it wasn’t encoded as “Jean” until “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” where she’s in Dumbledore’s will. Prior to that, Rowling said in interviews that her middle name was actually “Jane,” but she later changed it because she didn’t want her to share a middle name with Dolores Umbridge. “Jean” is also the middle name of Rowling’s daughter Mackenzie, and it’s rooted in a Latin word meaning “god is gracious.”
“Granger” is a somewhat common English and French name, an occupational name that refers to a farm worker who dealt with grain. Rowling also once considered “Puckle” as Hermione’s last name.