Headmaster Albus Dumbledore: His first name is from the Latin word alba, "white." His last name, according to Rowling interviews, is Old English for "bumblebee." In colour symbolism, white often stands for purity, so the headmaster's name suggests honour and a hard-working nature ("busy as a bee").
Professor Binns: A bin is a large storage container. A dustbin is British English for a garbage can. This boring professor could be described as a ghostly storage for information that many Hogwarts students view as rubbish.
Headmaster Armando Dippet: Armando is from the name Armand, "of the army." Dippet is not a word in English, but dip has many meanings, including: (1) to put something into something else, often a liquid; (2) to take something out of something, as in dipping out water; (3) to lower and raise something; (4) a fool.
Argus Filch: In Greek mythology, Argus the All-Seeing was a man with 100 eyes on his body, who gained a reputation as a great watchman. The goddess Hera asked him to watch a priestess, Io, who had been turned into a heifer, or young cow, because she had fallen in love with Hera's husband, Zeus. However, Hermes, messenger of the gods, tricked him by telling him long, boring stories. All those eyes closed in sleep, and Hermes stole away Io. Filch is an informal word that means to secretly steal items of little value.
Professor Filius Flitwick: Filius is Latin for "son of." Flitwick is a town in England but also suggests movement of a wand. To flit is to move quickly from location to another. A wick is a loosely woven strand of fabric or fibres, often used in a candle or oil lamp. A wick has a similar shape to a stick (wand).
Rubeus Hagrid: Rubeus, possibly from the Latin rubinus, "red." Also possibly from Hagrid Rubes, "Giant of the Jewels." He was a kind giant in ancient Greek mythology. (Hagrid is a nice, generous man.) Zeus, chief of the gods, framed him for murder. (Hagrid and Aragog were framed for deaths of Hogwarts students.) Zeus banished him from Mount Olympus, home of the gods, but allowed him to take care of the animals. (Headmaster Dippet expelled him from Hogwarts, but Dumbledore convinced him to keep Hagrid on as head gamekeeper.) Hagrid also may nean "hung over," as from alcohol. Hagride is a verb that means "to torment."
Madam Hooch: Hooch is (1) U.S. slang for hard liquor, especially whiskey or illegal (bootleg) alcohol. Hooch is from hoochihoo, liquor distilled by the Hutsnuwu Indians. (2) It also can be slang for marijuana. (3) Among American soldiers fighting in Vietnam in the 1960s and '70s, it was slang for a hut, particularly one in a rural native village. Hooch's possible first name, Xiomara, may be either Aztec or from another Latin American Indian nation. You see Xiomara used as a first name for Latin American females.
Gilderoy Lockhart: "Gilde" is from the word "gilded," or decorated with a thin layer of gold. "Roy" is from the French word roi, or king. Lockhart is a Scottish name. It contains the words "lock" and "hart" (heart). The Clan Lockhart's slogan is "I open locked hearts." So he is a gilded, golden-haired king whose big smile and friendly ways unlocks hearts (especially girls'). Lockhart also is a town near Wagga Wagga, Australia, which explains the Wagga Wagga Werewolf.
Professor Kettleburn: Humorous name suggesting either a container that got burned, or an injury gotten from one. A cauldron is a type of metal kettle.
Professor Minerva McGonagall: Minerva was the Roman goddess of wisdom and war. Her pet was an owl, like Athene, who was her equivalent in Greek mythology. The name Minerva also means "wise." The Scottish name McGonagall (or McGonigle, McGonegal) is from the Celtic name Conegal, meaning "the bravest," plus Mc, or "son of."
Alastor Moody: or Alastair, is from the name Alexander, "protector of mankind" (good name for an Auror). Moody means temperamental or tending to quickly change moods.
Madam Irma Pince: Irma is from German irmen for "whole" or "complete." Pince is from pince-nez, a pair of glasses with no side ear temples, but just lenses and their frames. They clip on the bridge of the nose. Pince-nez is "pinch (the) nose" in French. This type of eyeglasses is sometimes seen on stern or bookish people in literature, movies, T
Madam Poppy Pomfrey: The poppy, genus Papaver, has served both decorative and medicinal purposes. The opium poppy, Papaver somniferus, is the most notorius species, producing legal and illegal drugs. It is used to make the legal painkillers codeine and morphine, but also produces opium and heroin. The non-addictive poppy seeds are commonly used in baking. Pomfrey is a contraction of the city of Pontrefact, North Yorkshire, England. Pomfrey cakes are small, sweet lozenges made from the roots of the licorice plant. Licorice also has been a medicinal ingredient for hundreds of years.
Professor Quirrell: May be from the word squirrel, for a group of nervous, nut-eating rodents that live in trees. The professor was a scared, shaky man who behaved a lot like one, later an act to cover up his allegiance to Voldemort. The Diagon Alley extension of the Harry Potter Trading Card Game lists Quirrell's first name as Quirinus. Several Roman Catholic martyrs bore this name. Quirinus also was the name of a Sabine war god worshipped by the ancient Romans. It may be derived from the world "spear" in the Sabine language, and from the Latin corvirium, or "assembly of men."
Professor Sinistra: The Latin sinister meant "on the left," or more often, "unlucky." Something that is sinister in Modern English means it is evil or suggestive of evil. The left side was often associated with evil or bad luck in Roman and other ancient cultures.
Professor Severus Snape: Severus was the name of several ancient Roman emperors and later, early saints. Severus is the Latin word for "strict" or "severe," which the professor truly is. Snape also a town in England. It also is a shipbuilding term. It means to bevel the end of a piece of wood, or cut it at a sloping angle, so it fits against an inclined surface.
Professor Sprout: Her very appropriate plant-oriented name means to (1) spring up and grow; (2) to send out new growth.
Professor Sibyll Trelawney: Sibyl was a priestess in ancient Greek mythology. A sibyl (one "l") is a woman who could look into the future. Often sibyls came in groups of 10 and were found in the Greek, Egyptian and Babylonian cultures. A sibyl also can be any female prophet. The name is from the Latin sibylla, seer. Trelawney is an English name meaning "for God."
Professor Vector: A vector is a mathematical term for either (1) a one-dimensional array or (2) a quantity that has a magnitude and a direction, often represented by a line segment. Vector teaches Arithmancy, which is fortune-telling with number values.
OTHER WIZARDS AND WITCHES
Bathilda Bagshot: Author of A History of Magic. Bathilda is a German name that means "heroine."
Sirius Black: His first name is the "Dog Star," brightest in the Canis Major (Great Dog) constellation. There are at least two three stars in the Sirius system, and the brightest is Sirius A; it is 10 times brighter than our sun. This star was given god status among the ancient Egyptians and later the Greeks. The dog represented by the constellation was the faithful companion to Orion the hunter, who also is a constellation. Appropriate for a wizard who can transform into a dog. Black suggests the dark nature that wizards unaware of Sirius' innocence assign to him. It also could suggest "black dog," the form he takes when his uses his skill as an Animagus.
Fleur Delacour: Her first name is French for "flower." Her last name means "of the court." A flower of the court could mean a noblewoman.
Dedalus Diggle: Daedalus (the more common spelling) was a craftsman and inventor in Greek mythology. He fled Greece and went to the island of Crete. There he built the labyrinth, a maze that held the Minotaur, a monster man with the head of a bull. Daedalus tried to escape King Minos of Crete, so he built wings of wax and feathers for himself and his son, Icarus. They flew like birds into the sky. Icarus flew too closely to the sun and crashed to earth, dying. Diggle may be from dig.
Diggory: Amos is from Hebrew and means "to be troubled." Cedric may mean "chief," but also is attributed to Sir Walter Scott, author of Ivanhoe. Diggory may be from digger, either (1) a person who digs or (2) a nickname for an Australian or New Zealand soldier.
Arabella Figg: 1) Latin, ara and bellis, or "beautiful altar." (2) Possibly from the German Amhilda, "eagle heroine/warrior." Figg may be variation of fig, a fruit-bearing tree. In Biblical times, the fig tree was important to Roman and Hebrew cultures as a valuable source of food and medicinal ingredients. Its flowering meant winter was over. For Buddhists, this is the tree under which the Buddha received enlightenment.
Mundungus Fletcher: (1) Mundungus means "garbage" or "rubbish." From the Spanish mondongo, or tripe, the linings of cattle stomachs used in cooking. The English considered these stomach linings to be garbage, and "tripe" in English means something is rubbish. (2) Mundungus also is an obsolete term for a very stinky tobacco. A fletcher is an arrow-maker (see Justin Finch-Fletchley).
Florean Fortescue: Florean or (Florian) means "flower." Could be related to florid, meaning (1) reddish or rose colored, or (2) ornamental or flowery. Fortescue may have come from Sir Adrian Fortescue, who was beheaded in 1539 for not being loyal to the Pope.
Miranda Goshawk: Author of The Standard Book of Spells series. Miranda is from Spanish and means "admirable" or "beautiful." A goshawk is a large, powerful species of hawk with rounded wings, long tail and brown or gray feathers.
Grindelwald: The Dark Wizard whom Dumbledore defeated in 1945 takes his name from a city in Switzerland. In German, wald is "forest." Grind is a scab, as in the hardened covering over a scar; could also be grinsen, a grin or big smile. The words grindel or grendel appeared in early versions of several Germanic languages, including English. Grindan in Old English meant "to grind," and further "destroyer," someone who grinds up others. In Middle English, grindel meant "angry." In Old Norse, grindill was taken from "storm," and also meant "to bellow," or produce a loud, frightening yell. In Danish legend, the Grendel was a fearsome, murderous monster of humanoid form. He was later defeated by the Scandinavian hero Beowulf in the medieval story of the same name.
Godric Gryffindor: His first name comes from Old English for "power of God." Gryffindor is from griffin, a fierce, legendary beast with the body of a lion, and the head and wings of an eagle. The Hogwarts house named after him uses a lion as its symbol.
Helga Hufflepuff: The name is from Helge, from Old Norse heilagr, meaning "prosperous" or "brave." Their symbol is the badger, a large mammal related to the weasels with distinctive white stripes on its head. In Celtic mythology, a badger was a guide. The badger also can symbolize a tendency to be hard-working, strong and tenacious (sticking to something and not giving up). Hufflepuffs are known for loyalty and hard work.
Arsenius Jigger: Author of a book on potions. Arsenius may be from arsenic, a group of several very poisonous metallic elements. A jigger is a liquid measurement, often for liquor, of 1 1/2 ounces.
Igor Karkaroff: Igor is the Russian form of Ivor, from Norse yr (bow, yew tree) + herr (man, warrior); thus "bow warrior." Karkarov is unknown, but off/ov (or ev) is a common Russian name ending. It originally was used by sons who took their father's name (females took eva or ova.) Both suffixes mean "belonging to." Kark may be from the Polish karac, "punishment."
Viktor Krum: His first name means the "victorious one," appropriate for a forceful Quidditch player.
Frank Longbottom: The Franks were a Germanic tribe that settled in France and the Netherlands. The name is derived from a word meaning "spear."
Malfoy: This name is taken from mal foi, or "bad faith" in French. Lucius from the Latin for "light" (lux). Lucius was the name of several Etruscan kings, as well as part of the name of the Roman scholar Seneca. The name resembles Lucifer, the "Angel of Light." In Christian writings he rebelled against God and was later thrown into hell with his supporters, becoming Satan. Narcissa is from Narcissus, a man in Greek myth who was so vain he stared at his reflection in a pond for so long that he eventually turned into a plant called the narcissus. A narcisstic person is very stuck-up and into their appearance.
Madame Olympe Maxime: Originally, Mount Olympus was the mighty home of the Greek gods in ancient legend. Olympe is the French form of Olympia. Maxime is a French word derived from the Roman Maximus, or "greatest." This could suggest both her tall height and bravery for going with Hagrid to try and contact the giants.
Mulciber: A Death Eater. May refer to Mulciber (Hephaestus), the gentle son of Zeus and Hera who had a club foot and was a craftsman and balcksmith in Greek mythology. More likely Rowling n refers to Mulciber, a character in John Milton's Paradise Lost, a story based on mankind falling into sin and the struggle of heaven and hell. Mulciber was a fallen angel who is the architect of Pandemonium, the capital of Hell and home to the demons' council.
Peter Pettigrew: Peter is from the Greek petros, or rock. This may refer to his loyalty to Lord Voldemort as being like a rock. Pettigrew is a real name, but it suggests that Peter "petty grew," that he grew into a petty person who is rock-hard, with no compassion. Petty means (1) unimportant (2) minor (3) narrow-minded (4) mean and ungenerous, especially in small things. Another fan suggested Pettigrew is a version of "pet I grew," referring to the moment that he grew from a rat and back into a man by Remus Lupin and Sirius Black's wand zaps.
Potter: Harry is a medieval English version of the name Henry, "ruler of the home." It also can be a nickname for Harold, "army ruler." Potter is a name derived from a trade practiced by an ancestor -- far enough back, someone in the family line made earthenware items (compare to Smith or Cook). Rowling got his name from some kids with whom she played in Winterbourne, England, in the late 1960s. Lily (mom) is a flower of the genus Lilium that often symbolizes purity. James (dad) means "supplanter." This is one who or takes the place of someone else, especially by force.
Rowena Ravenclaw: Rowena is the Latin version of a Germanic name that means "fame and joy." Ravenclaw is simply raven + claw. A raven is a large black bird that belongs to the crow family; however, Ravenclaw's symbol is an eagle. In legend, ravens are known to be smart birds; Ravenclaws are known to be wise and quick learners.
Rita Skeeter Rita is a nickname form of Margarita, related to Margaret, from Greek margaron, or "pearl." Skeeter is American English slang for a mosquito. This females of this insect are well-known for their annoying habits of buzzing around the head and sucking blood, which they need to lay their eggs. Some people also like to call news reporters "bloodsuckers."
Salazar Slytherin: Salazar is of northern Spanish/Basque origin and means "palace." Slytherin is a variation of "slithering," a method of travel for snakes. Some HP fans see a connection to Antonio Salazar, a dictator who ruled Portugal from 1932 to 1968. Rowling lived in Portugal, working as an English teacher,and was married briefly to a local man, who also is the father of Jessica.
Phyllida Spore: The author of One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi has a very plant-oriented name. Her first name is from Latin for "leaf" or "plant." A spore is a body produced by fungi, algae and nonflowering plants that is very protective and resistant to drought.
Emeric Switch: Author of A Beginner's Guide to Transfiguration. Emeric was (1) the name of a saint (1007-1031) who lived in Hungary. (2) A variation of Emery, "ruler of work." To switch is to exchange one thing with another; could be extended to transfiguration, changing one form into another.
Quentin Trimble: Author of a Dark Arts defense book. Quentin (or Quenton) means "the fifth." Trimble may be a variation of tremble, to shake, which a person may do when confronted with dark forces.
Vindictus Viridian: Author of a book on cursing people that attracts Harry's eye at Flourish & Blotts. His first name comes from the Latin vincdicta, or "vengeance." To be vindictive is to want to hurt someone you think has hurt you. Viridian is a durable, bluish-green pigment. From Latin viridis, "green."
Voldemort/Tom Ridde: Voldemort is French for "flight of death." Tom Marvolo Riddle was made into the anagram "I am Lord Voldemort." An anagram is one or more words that can be rearranged into new words or phrases. A riddle is a clever puzzle asked as a question or something that can't be explained. Tom proved to be this in life and in projected form through his diary. To riddle also means to pierce with numerous holes. Thomas means "twin" (see Dean Thomas). Marvolo is like marvel, (1) to be amazed or astonshed by something, or (2) a thing that causes wonder. (From Latin mirabilis, "wonderful," from mirari, to wonder.)
Adalbert Waffling: Adal is Old High German for "noble" or "aristocratic"; berta, "bright." To waffle means unable to make a firm decision.
Weasley: This name could be from the world weasel, meaning (1) sneaky (2) being cowardly and running away from a situation. Or it could be from wheeze/wheezing/wheezy, meaning to breath loudly and heavily. Neither one really applies to this large wizarding family. Arthur (dad) means "a follower of Thor," the Viking god of thunder. Molly (mom) is derived from Mary, which in turn comes from Miriam, "mistress of the sea," or "bitter." Charles (Charlie, son) means "manly." William (Bill, son) means "desire to protect." Percy (son) is from the name Percival, "piercing the valley." Frederick (Fred, son) means "peace" (but this kid doesn't bring very much of it to his mom). George (son) means "farmer." Ronald (Ron, son) is from the Scandinavian form of Reynold, meaning "advice ruler," a leader who gives advice. Ginny (daughter) is from the name Virginia, meaning "virginal" or "pure."
Kennilworthy Whisp: (Author of Quidditch Through The Ages) The closest is kennel, an enclosed cage for keeping dogs. Worthy means means "deserving of respect" or "suitable." A whisp is a flock of snipe (a type of bird). A wisp is a small bunch or bundle, such as of straw; (2) a slight or thin person; (3) something that is light, thin or streaked.
MINISTRY OF MAGIC OFFICIALS
Ludovic "Ludo" Bagman: Ludovic is from Gaelic for "devotee of the Lord." Ludo also is Latin for "I play." (He headed the Department of Magical Sport and Games.) In British slang, a bagman is a traveling salesman. In U.S. slang, it means a person who transports cash for a criminal operation. Ludo was a secret gambler who threw away his money.
Bartemius Crouch Jr./Sr.: Crouch means to bend the knees and get close to the ground. Someone crouching may be hiding. Both Crouches did have something to hide in The Goblet of Fire. Bartemius: This name is somewhat like Bartholemew, meaning "hill" or "furrow."
Cornelius Fudge: Cornelius is an Irish name that means "horn coloured" or "strong-willed and wise." Fudge is a rich sugar, milk, butter and flavouring. It also takes a more serious definition: (1) to fake or falsify; (2) to evade; (3) to be indecisive. There were times when Fudge did behave like this as head of the Ministry of Magic.
Bertha Jorkins: Victim of Lord Voldemort. Her first name means "intelligent" or "shining." Ironic first name, as she was gossipy, forgetful and not always wisely cautious about danger. Jorkins may be from Mr. Jorkins, a character in Charles Dickens' David Copperfield and A Christmas Carol.
Newton "Newt" Scamander: His nickname is a small, brightly coloured salamander. His last name could also be a variation of salamander. Appropriate for a beast guy. The salamander of legend was the "fire lizard," a reptile so resistant to heat that it lived in fire.
Malcolm Baddock: (A Slytherin student) Malcolm means "disciple of St. Columba," a sixth century Irish saint who established a convent on the island of Iona. Columba means "dove." Baddock is unknown.
Katie Bell: Katie is a nickname for Katherine, often defined as "pure." According to Behind the Names, it may actually mean "one of the two" or "my blessing of your name." Bell is an English name with various meanings: (1) a person who lived by a town or church bell; (2) a bell-ringer, as in a church; (3) beautiful or handsome, derived from the French belle (same meaning); from Isobel, shortening of a name.
Susan Bones: Susan is from the Hebrew Shoshannah, or lily. The lily is often a symbol of purity. Bones is a variation of Boone, which may have been from Norse bohun, "ready"; or French lebon, "the good (one)"; or from the city of Bohon in France.
Eleanor Branstone: Eleanor is from the Greek and means "light." Branstone is a descriptive name and may mean her ancestors either made grinding stones for mills or lived near a place that made them.
Lavender Brown: Lavender is a pale purple, named after perennial plants of the genus Lavandula, which have small clusters of purple flowers that are sometimes used as an ingredient in perfumes.
Millicent Bulstrode: The first name is derived from Norman French and ultimately the German Amalaswinth, or "work strength." Bulstrode is a variation of Bolstridge or Boulstridge. A reader, Nick Boulstridge, said on the Message Boards that his name is derived from Boulstroude, and means "bull stride," as in riding a bull, and was first established in 1077.
Cho Chang: This girl's ethnic background is not specified. In Korean, cho can mean "beautiful." In Mandarin Chinese, Chang can mean (1) strength or (2) smooth. In Japanese, cho is "butterfly" or "born at dawn."
Penelope Clearwater: Her first name is from the Greek penelops, a kind of duck. The name also can mean "silent worker." It also suggests "weaver," as this was what Penelope, the wife of Odysseus, did in her long wait for his return in The Odyssey. Clearwater is a descriptive place name that suggests her ancestors lived near a body of water.
Vincent Crabbe: His last name is probably a variation of crab, a small, round crustacean with two large claws in front, or informal English for a grumpy person. Vincent means "conqueror" or "victor."
Creevey: Colin is derived from Nicholas, "victorious people." Dennis means "wild" or "frenzied." Creevey is an actual English surname, but no meaning has yet been uncovered.
Justin Finch-Fletchley: Justin is from the Latin for "just" or "true." A finch is a family of small songbirds with wide beaks. Fletchley may come from fletcher, an arrow-maker (also under Mundungus Fletcher).
Seamus Finnigan: Seamus is an Irish version of the name James, which means "supplanter" (one who takes the place of another, usually by force). See also James Potter. Finnigan is an Irish name that includes finn (white, fair) and means "fair-haired one."
Marcus Flint: Marcus means "brave" or "warlike." A flint is a hard, fine-grained type of quartz that when struck by steel, produces sparks to start fires.
Gregory Goyle: His last name is probably from "gargoyle," small monsters used to decorate buildings. The Gargouille also was a legendary water monster living in the River Seine in Paris, France. The smaller gargoyles sometimes were in the Gargouille's image and were used as downspouts. Goyle's first name means "watchman," appropriate for an informal bodyguard.
Hermione Granger: Rowling first encountered "Hermione" when she saw William Shakespeare's A Winter's Tale on a school field trip. Hermione is is from Greek for "earthly." A grange in British English is a countryside estate or farming complex. A granger in UK English is a manager of a grange; in U.S. English it means farmer.
Terrence Higgs: Terentius was a Roman family name. It may mean "tender" or "gracious," which doesn't sound like a Slytherin. Higgs is variation of Hicks, from old English Hicke, a nickname for the Norman French name Richard. The early English substituted an "H" because they had trouble saying the letter "R."
Neville Longbottom: Neville means "new town." Longbottom is a comical name, perhaps suggesting this bumbling student is chubby or has a "long bottom" that trips him up.
Angelina Johnson: Angelina is Spanish for "angelic." Johnson means "son of John."
Lee Jordan: Lee is a field or meadow. Jordan means to "flow" or "descend." Jordan is also old English for a chamberpot (a small container in the bedroom, used for going to the bathroom, before indoor plumbing).
Draco Malfoy: Draco is from the Latin word for dragon. Malfoy is from the French, mal foi, "bad faith."
Morag McDougall: Morag is from Gaelic mór, "tall." Dougall is from the Gaelic Dubhgall, or "dark stranger," and "Mc" is "son of."
Patil: Patil may be a variation of Patel, Hindi for "village leader." Parvati means "gentle." Parvati was the consort of Shiva, the chief god of Hinduism. She was the mother of Shanmukha and Ganesha. She won over Shiva through a long penance, or time of repentance for wrongdoing. Padma is another name for Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth and wife of Sri Maha Vishnu. In Buddhism, Padma is the lotus flower and a central symbol of Buddha truth. The lotus is a beautiful flower that grows out of a plant living in a murky swamp. The lotus also is a symbol for the equality of all living things.
Pansy Parkinson: A pansy is an annual plant of the genera Achimenes or Viola, whose flowers have velvety petals in several colours. It also can be a deep purple colour. Parkinson means "son of Parkin." Parkin means "young Peter." Peter is from Greek petros, "rock."
Graham Pritchard: Graham was originally a Scottish last name that meant "gray home" or "gravel homestead." Pritchard is Welsh and derived from Richard, a Germanic name meaning "brave power" and a popular name in Wales before the 15th century.
Adrian Pucey: Adrian means "of the Adriatic," an arm of the Mediterrean Sea between Yugoslavia and Albania on the east, and Italy on the west. Pucey may be from puce, a deep red to dark grayish purple, and from the French word for "flea."
Alicia Spinnet: Alicia is related to Alice and ultimately the German Adalheid, meaning "noble type (of person)." The last name really exists and is often spelled Spinnett. A spinet a small upright piano. Alicia's name also may be a variation of spinner or spinney, a small grove of trees.
Dean Thomas: Dean means "head" or "leader" and is often the title of a department chief at a college or university. Thomas means "twin" (also under Tom Riddle/Voldemort.)
Oliver Wood: The olive branch often is a symbol of peace. The olive tree's symbolism also includes a great harvest and long life. Wood is a place name (like Brooks or Field) and suggests ancestors who lived near or in a forest, or who were woodcutters.
Blaise Zabini: The name name Blaise in French and Old English means "stutter." Zabini is an Italian name.
Dursley: A city in Gloucester County, Rowling's home county in southwest England. The family has plant-oriented names! Vernon (uncle) is from a French last name for "alder tree." Petunia (aunt) is a type of annual flower with delicate, bell-shaped flowers (Aunt petunia is not delicate). Dudley means "from the meadow."
Mr. Mason: This affluent builder was a guest of the Dursleys in The Chamber of Secrets. A mason is a bricklayer.
Piers Polkiss Piers is of Anglo-Saxon heritage and means "rock." It is a variant of Peter, from the Greek for "rock." Polkiss may be a variation of Polk, which itself is a variation of the Scottish names Pogue, Pollack, or Pollock, meaning "from the pool or pit."
Bane: A "bane" is something that (1) is a constant source of unhappiness or worry; (2) can cause injury or death or (3) a poison. The word comes from the old English bana and is related to the German word bano, death.
Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington: Nicholas is from the Greek Nikolaos, "victory of the people." Nick is a jokey, ironic nickname and pun -- one definition of nick is "to cut slightly," and he received more than just a little cut when he was beheaded. Sir indicates he was knighted by a British monarch when he was alive. Porpington is a name Rowling made up and is closest to porpentine, an obsolete name for a porcupine. "Like quills upon the fretful porpentine...": From Shakespeare's Hamlet. Nick is a prickly-tempered person at times. Mimsy may have come from come from the same word coined by Alice in Wonderland author Lewis Carroll. It appears in his nonsense poem "The Jabberwocky": "All mimsy were the borogroves..."
Dobby: (1) A dobby is a small mechanical part in a loom that enables the weaver to create small geometric patterns. (2) A geometric figure in a fabric. (3) Fabric containing these patterns.
Grey Lady: This may be a play on Lady Jane Grey (1537-1554), who was imprisoned and executed by the British monarchy. Her ambitious parents hoped she would marry Edward, son of Henry VIII, and become queen of England. This did not occur, and she was bullied into a loveless marriage to Guildford Dudley, a son of the Duke of Northumberland (whose ancestral home was Alnwick Castle, a filming site of the HP movies). After King Edward's death, she was shocked to find he had named her queen. There was a conflict over who was actually queen -- Mary, the Catholic daughter of Henry VIII, or Lady Jane, a Protestant. The Tower of London went from being her home to her prison as Mary and her supporters came to London and took over the monarchy. Lady Jane was beheaded in February 1554.
Moaning Myrtle: Myrtle comes from a flowering shrub of the same name. Myrtles (genus Myrtus) are a group of plants found in the Mediterranean region of Europe. They have aromatic leaves and are source of a bitter spice of the same name. The wood from the plant also is fragrant and adds a sweet taste to grilled foods. To moan is to (1) complain or (2) make a long, low sound of pain or grief.
Peeves: A peeve (1) is something that is very annoying, as in "pet peeve." (2) To peeve is to be annoying. (3) Peevish means disagreeable and bad tempered.
Ronan: There have been 12 Irish saints bearing this name. Ronan has red hair, a characteristic often given to Irish people.
Firenze: This is the Italian name for the city of Florence, known for its great collection of artwork.
Sir Cadogan: English form of the Welsh name Cadwgawn, meaning "glory in battle"; from cad battle, and gwogawn, glory.
Winky: (1) To wink means to close the eye quickly. (2) Using this as a gesture to mean you are joking or being friendly. (2) To wink at a negative situation means you choose to ignore it.
Buckbeak: The hippogriff's name simply suggests his dual nature as part eagle and part horse. When a horse bucks, it kicks its back legs out and upward. A beak is of course a bird's mouth.
Crookshanks: From the old English for "crooked legs."
Errol: The elderly owl's name is derived from a Scottish place name; it means "to wander."
Fawkes: Dumbledore's phoenix is named for Guy Fawkes, an English Catholic who plotted with several others to blow up the Houses of Parliament in November 1605. Being a Catholic was illegal, and citizens were expected to belong to the Church of England. Fawkes and a number of others were captured for the "Gunpowder Plot," charged with treason and hanged in 1606. The British still celebrate Bonfire Night every 5 November by setting off fireworks, building big fires and burning effigies (likenesses) of Fawkes in memory of how the conspiracy was stopped.
Fluffy: Fluff is down, the soft feathers on a bird, or fuzz. Fluffy in turn means "soft" or "light." Rowling gave this ironic name given to the huge three-headed dog as a humorous device -- Hagrid loves those dangerous animals and gives them such gentle-sounding names!
Hedwig: Hedwig is German for "battling." St. Hedwig (1174-1243) was the Duchess of Silesa, Germany, and wife of King Henry I. She was remembered as wise and deeply religious. She was noted for her generous assistance to Catholic monks and for unselfishly tending lepers within her kingdom. Hedwig also was responsible for starting an order of nuns who cared for orphans.
Hermes: Greek messenger of the gods; same as Mercury in Roman mythology. The name of Percy's owl may come from the Greek for "cairn" or "pile of stones." Hermes also was the patron of travellers, among others.
Nagini: Naga from Sanskrit for "snake" or "serpent." There were serpent gods found throughout central and east Asia. For example, Naga was a serpent god that inspired a pre-Buddhhist cult in Burma. A nagini in India is a snake being (1) that is worshipped as a god and believed to be protective, including from snake bites. The second definition is along the lines of Voldemort's large female snake: (2) the Nagini were attractive female snake beings with human bodies with either have snake heads or snake coils.
Norbert: The Norwegian Ridgeback dragon's name is from the Scandinavian for "brilliant hero"; also German for "northern (nord) brightness (beraht)." The Scandinavian peoples live in Norway, Sweden and Denmark. St. Norbert (1080-1134) was a German saint who began a life of great pleasure until he was nearly killed. He became a patient, humble priest and founder of a religious order.
Pigwidgeon: Pigwidgeon means "small" or "petty" and also can be spelled pigwidgin or pigwiggin. It combines pig with widgeon, two species of duck found in North America and Europe. English author and poet Michael Drayton (1663-1631) had a male fairy named "Pigwiggen" in his comical poem Nimphidia.
Scabbers: A scab (1) is the crusty covering blood forms over a wound as it clots. This meaning could reflect the rat's battered, threadbare appearance. (2) A scab is also a worker hired to replace others who are on strike. (3) Slang for a horrible person -- could reflect Peter Pettigrew's true nature.