I know that J.K.Rowling puts a lot of thought into the names she gives her characters. Sometimes this is relatively obvious, for example Sirius is names after the dog star.
However, some of them are a little harder to catch, and here at Potterflaws we are all about the details so here is a list of some of my favorite Harry Potter name origins, feel free to add yours in the comments.
Remus Lupin – I’m sure many of you know that Remus was the brother of Romulus (incidentally Lupin’s Potterwatch codename) one of the siblings who, according to legend, was suckled by a wolf. Romulus then went on to found Rome and Remus err died. Murdered by his brother after a disagreement about where they should found the city.
Lupin’s are a flower who’s name derives from the Latin word lupinus meaning “of or belonging to a wolf; made of wolf-skin. Mooney is obviously a reference to Lupin’s transformations as is Lupin’s other nicknam; Peeves refers to Lupin as ‘Loony loopy Lupin’ loony being short for Lunatic from the Late Latin lunaticus “moon-struck”. The moon was supposed to have an influence on diseases like epilepsy or insanity. Peeves later applied the same epithet to Luna who’s name also suggests a moon connection, Luna may not be a lunatic but she is a little odd.
Padfoot – This is Sirius’s nickname and it has a very interesting origin. In English folklore a Padfoot is one of several names for a ghostly black dog who’s appearance was regarded as a portent of death. It is generally supposed to have been larger than a normal dog with large, glowing eyes. Another name for this apparition is, of course, the Grim. Who could blame Trelawney for getting confused?
Ludo Bagman – Ludo is a board game and ‘Ludovic’ means famous warrior. Which might refer to Ludo’s skill at games. Bagman is another name with a gaming connection. A bagman is a person who collects dirty money, like Ludo’s suspect gambling proceeds.
Weasley middle names – Percy and Ron are the only two Weasley’s to get middle names (that aren’t just their parent’s names anyway) and they are both fairly interesting and definitely there for a reason. ‘Bilius’ Ron’s middle name comes from ‘Bilious’ can mean someone who is irritable or bad tempered, which Ron can frequently be.
Percy’s middle name ‘Ignatius’ is still more interesting. Ignatius of Loyola was a Spanish Knight. After being seriously wounded in the Battle of Pamplona in 1521, he underwent a spiritual conversion while in recovery. De Vita Christi by Ludolph of Saxony purportedly inspired Loyola to abandon his previous military life and devote himself to labour for God. So like Percy he had a change of heart that inspired him to live a better life. He was also one of 13 children. Even more than the Weasley’s.
Rubeus Hagrid – Rubeus means red or ruddy like you might be if you drank a bit much or spent a lot of time outside. J.K. Rowling as said that Hagrid is “another old English word, meaning – if you were hagrid – it’s a dialect word – you’d had a bad night. Hagrid is a big drinker – he has a lot of bad nights.”
Gildroy Lockhart – A quote from the lady herself “I was looking through the Dictionary of Phrase and Fable – a great source for names – and came across Gilderoy, a handsome Scottish highwayman. Exactly what I wanted.”
Mundungus – Mundungus is a word that means tobacco because Mundungus smokes a particularly foul pipe.
And to finish my favorite Harry Potter name story. On page 159 of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire ‘McDonald, Natalie’ was sorted into Gryffindor. Natalie McDonald was a girl from Toronto who had emailed Rowling when she was dying from leukemia, Rowling replied but her email arrived the day after Natalie’s death. So that’s why Natalie is in the book. Read the full story here.
There are a lot more, she really does put a lot of thought into stuff like this, so this is by no means a comprehensive list.
Anyway goodnight potterfans I hear Mars is bright tonight (Roman god of war, as we’re doing names).