Emily Giblett | Contributing Writer | Friday, 3 June 2016

Here’s What All The Harry Potter Spells Actually Mean

Here’s What All The Harry Potter Spells Actually Mean

The Debrief: Because someone had to ruin the magic at some point.

Harry Potter is part of our collective subconscious. If you can't name at least one spell at a moment's notice then the chances are you're actually an alien trying to impersonate human life and you have failed. It was only a matter of time before a nosey person with a Latin dictionary realised that all these mystic-sounding spells are mostly just literal translations. Here's the best of the bunch. 

1. Wingardium Leviosa 

Ahh, the spell that started it all. If Ron hadn't been a dick about Hermione's pronounciation of 'LeviOHsa not LevioSARR' then who knows what would have happened. Wingardium Leviosa is compounded of the English word 'wing', 'arduus' which means proudly elevated, and 'levo' - latin for rise up.

2. Expelliarmus 

 The disarming spell. This joins 'expello' (to disarm) with 'armus' (weaponry). 

3. Petrificus Totalus


Not gonna lie, literally just included this one to remind everyone that Matthew Lewis was absolutely adorable before he blossomed into a veritable god amongst men. Petrificus Totalus combines 'petros' which means rock in Greek, 'facio', which means 'to make', and 'totalis', 'whole' in latin.

4. Stupefy

 Described by HP himself as 'a wizards bread and butter really', Stupefy is one of the basics. It's derived from the latin 'stupeo' which, unsurprisingly means 'to be stunned'. 

5. Lumos 

Taken from the latin word 'lumen' - it means light.  

6. Riddikulus

 This one is pretty self-explanatory, but Alan Rickman in a coat and furs is too good a GIF not to include. Riddikulus literally translates from latin as 'laughable' 

7. Obliviate

 Hands up if you cried at this one. Obliviate comes from the medieval Latin 'obliviscor' which means 'I forget'. 

8. Expecto Patronum

 Put together, the latin that is the origin for Expecto Patronum translates to 'I wait for a protector'. Aww. 

Other spells from the book that didn't make the cut for the film series include. Erecto a spell which makes things, ahem, erect, and the Conjunctivitus spell that causes irritation in an opponents eyes. 


Tags: Film