The Hidden Meanings of the Harry Potter Spells

Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban

Expecto Patronum! Wingardium Leviosa! Lumos!

Today, we’re digging deeper into some of the iconic spells from J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. J. K. Rowling studied Classics (along with French) and the Latin language is ever present in her books: From the Hogwarts motto, to the names of famous locations and potions, her magical series is filled with it.

She also uses Latin to add that little bit of magic to the Harry Potter spells – they have their roots in the language and are almost identical to their roots in many cases. So, let’s take a look at the hidden roots of three famous Harry Potter spells…

Lumos – we imagine that this spell either comes from the Latin for light – “lux”- or more likely, the Latin for daylight – “lumen”. This makes sense, as the spell conjures a brilliant flare of light at the tip of the caster’s wand.

Expelliarmus – Harry Potter’s favourite spell is a little more complex. The first part “expel” comes from the Latin “ex” meaning “out”, and “pellere” meaning “to drive”. So that’s the first bit sorted – to drive out. armus is very similar to “arma” which is the Latin for “weapon”. And there we have it – to drive out the weapon. Very fitting for the disarming spell.

Sectumsempra – this one is the most brilliantly fitting in our opinion. “sectum” is Latin meaning “having been cut” and sempra is very similar to the Latin word “semper” meaning “always”. And so Severus Snape’s vicious slashing spell actually means “always cuts”.

Did we miss any important ones? Let us know if you guys know any cool hidden meanings for the other Harry Potter spells!

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