hp etymology


Harry Potter Etymology | The Killing Curse (“Avada Kedavra”)

The phrase is of Aramaic origin meaning “be destroyed at this word”. J. K. Rowling seemed to support the second theory as the source, during an audience interview at the Edinburgh Book Festival on 15 April, 2004, where she had this to say about the spell’s etymology: “Does anyone know where avada kedavra came from? It is an ancient spell in Aramaic, and it is the original of abracadabra, which means ‘let the thing be destroyed.’ Originally, it was used to cure illness and the 'thing’ was the illness, but I decided to make it the 'thing’ as in the person standing in front of me. I take a lot of liberties with things like that. I twist them round and make them mine.”


Harry Potter Etymology | Levitation Charm (“Wingardium Leviosa”)

Wingardium is a composite word, based on: English to wing meaning “to fly” (e.g. the plane winged skywards); arduus (meaning “high, tall, lofty, steep, proudly elevated”) or arduum (meaning “steep place, the steep”); and the common Latin ending -ium. Leviosa probably derives from Latin levo, meaning to “raise, lift up”, or levis, meaning light (of weight). Altogether, therefore, the incantation could best be read as “lift up high”.


Horcrux - “time is most important” (gr. + eng.)

For full disclosure, TEC is varying into conjecture for this one. Here we go:

 “Hor” was the Greek word for time, such as in “horoscope” (literally: time observer) whereas crux is defined as “the decisive or most important point at issue.” As Voldemort’s primary reason for the creation of the horcruxes was to preserve his time on earth, the definition of “time is most important” fits the object. I welcome other etymologically-based theories! 

Every Friday on the English Crux is devoted to the etymology behind literary characters + objects. Next week’s word: Quasimodo?