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Do you know the meaning behind Harry Potter spells like Expelliarmus and Wingardium Leviosa? In this episode of The List Show, Erin (@erincmccarthy) breaks down the origins of 30 Harry Potter terms.

You’ll learn where Dumbledore’s name comes from and how the etymology of "horcrux" has been debated. Users of the three Unforgivable Curses and and Emma Watson super-fans will want to watch.

In case you forgot, The List Show is a trivia-tastic, fact-filled show for curious people. Subscribe here for new List Show episodes the first and third Wednesday of each month: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpZ5qUqpW4hW4zdfuBxMSJA?sub_confirmation=1

For more Harry Potter trivia, check out our article, 35 Things You Might Not Know About Harry Potter: http://mentalfloss.com/article/66781/35-things-you-might-not-know-about-harry-potter

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Did you know that the word muggle means foolish or stupid?

Well...sort of. I'm Erin McCarthy, editor-in-chief of MentalFloss.com and Gryffindor who is still waiting for her Hogwarts letter.

Seriously: where is it? J. K.

Rowling borrowed the term "mug" to create a word for a person who's not a witch or wizard. She once explained, quote, "I was looking for a word that suggested both foolishness and lovability. The word 'mug' came to mind for somebody gullible and then I softened it.

I think 'muggle' sounds quite cuddly. I didn't know that the word muggle had been used as drug slang at that point. Ah well." And that's just the first of many Harry Potter etymologies that I'm going to share with you today.

In the Harry Potter universe another non-magical being is a squib, a person who has magical parents but isn't a witch or wizard themselves. I'm talking Arabella Figg, Argus Filch, Marius Black, Angus Buchanan...two of those were also cat people, and if you know which ones you are a certified fan and you've come to the right place. The word squib has been around since the 16th century, when it referred to something like a firecracker.

Eventually damp squib came to mean a disappointment, which is likely where Rowling got the term. Speaking of disappointment, nothing is more disappointing than realizing the Mirror of Erised is just showing you what you want to see most. Erised is just desire, backwards.

There's also an inscription around the edge of the mirror that, when read backwards, says "I show not your face but your heart's desire." The French school Beauxbatons visits Hogwarts for the Triwizard Tournament. In French, Beaux means beautiful and Batons means sticks. According to fan interpretation, Rowling was probably going for "beautiful wands." Many of the spells in this series are derived from Latin words.

According to Pottermore this was because Wizards are, quote, "old-fashioned in nature" so "it's not surprising that so many of their spells are rooted in a more archaic language." Of course, it didn't hurt that Rowling had a background in classics. To disarm someone a witch or wizard says expelliarmus. In Latin, expellere means "to drive out" and arma means "weapon." By the way, I'm trying my best but I don't speak Latin, and as much as it pains me to say it I'm not a witch, so please go easy on me.

Lumos is an easy one. This is the spell that characters use to light up their wands and lumen means "light" in Latin. It's pretty clear that this connection was intentional because to stop the light wizards say nox, which means "night." To levitate an object the spell is Wingardium Leviosa, which I can't say without hearing Emma Watson's voice ringing in my ears.

This one is less self-explanatory, but Rowling likely got Leviosa from a Latin word: either "levo" for lift or "levitas" for lightness. Then there's arduus, Latin for steep or high. "Wing," with its connection to flight, was probably just borrowed from English. Thanks to Wenzelsays for the suggestion.

Rowling leaned on other languages, too. Alohomora is the spell that unlocks doors. In Magic Words, A Dictionary, author Craig Conley explains that the term comes from Sikidy, a type of divination from Madagascar.

In Sikidy, an alohomer is often associated with the diviner. Rowling combined Latin and Greek words to create Petrificus Totalus, which Hermione uses to temporarily paralyze Nevil Longbottom. Pottermore explains that petra comes from the greek term for rock.

The suffix -ficus and totalis are Latin. They mean "to make" and "total," respectively. Together we get "to make rock totally." And if we're going to talk spells we have to go over the commands for the three.

Unforgivable Curses. Crucio is an easy one. It's the Latin word for "I torture." Imperio forces a victim to do anything that the spellcaster wants.

In Latin "impero" translates to "I command" or "I order." Then there's Avada Kedavra, which instantly kills someone. According to Rowling it's the original Aramaic version of abracadabra, meaning "let the thing be destroyed," though that's a historical interpretation that may not be totally true. The Oxford English Dictionary explains quote, "No documentation has been found to support any of the various conjectures which have been put forward... a large group of etymological suggestions tries to derive the word from Hebrew or Aramaic in various ways, involving, for example, an alteration of an unknown Aramaic name of a demon or a connection with Hebrew... but again, supporting evidence is lacking." Sectumsempra, the spell that young Severus Snape came up with, isn't an unforgivable curse but it might as well be with how it continuously slashes its victim.

And it turns out that's exactly what it means. Seco is Latin for sever and semper is "continuously," which Pottermore points out is pretty close to sempra. Fun fact: in 2015, college student Katherine Kline discovered an ancient lizard with sharp teeth that self-sharpened.

So based on the Latin meaning and the spell Kline named the reptile clevosaurus sectumsempra. The potion Veritaserum is also likely from Latin. It makes someone tell the truth and in Latin, veritas means truth.

Rowling embedded deeper meaning into some of her character names, too. Take Albus Dumbledore. Dumbledore was a 19th century English word that meant "bumblebee." Rowling described the connection this way.

Quote, "Because Albus Dumbledore is very fond of music, I always imagined him as sort of humming to himself a lot." A less pleasant name is Mundungus Fletcher, who is a thief and a member of the Order of the Phoenix. According to Merriam-Webster the word mundungus has been around since 1641, when it referred to a foul-smelling tobacco. For the Dursleys, Rowling relied less on old-timey words and more on personal preference.

On the website Pottermore she wrote, quote, "'Vernon' is simply a name I never much cared for. 'Petunia' is the name that I always gave unpleasant female characters and games of make-believe I played with my sister died when we were very young." And Dursley is a town in Gloucestershire, near Rowling's hometown—though she quickly adds that she never visited and just liked the name. Rowling once claimed on Twitter that she doesn't pronounce the T in Voldemort, which makes sense considering that's the proper French pronunciation. The name is made up of French words that together mean "flight of death," though Rowling has stated that it's an invented name without indicating a deeper meaning.

In 2009, while accepting the Légion d'honneur in France, Rowling said "I want to thank my French readers for not resenting my choice of a French name for my evil character. I can assure you that no anti-French feeling was at the origin of this choice." Speaking of Voldemort, excuse me *extremely French voice* vol de mort, his snake sidekick Nagini also has a significant name. The prequel film The Crimes of Grindelwald revealed that Nagini was once a human woman, and in a Blu-ray extra Rowling explained that this was a plan long in the making, as evidenced by Nagini's name.

There are stories of the Nagas in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. In all three, Nagas are frequently snake people. In Sanskrit a Nagini is a female Naga.

The Harry Potter stories also includes some fun, already-existing terms like "apparate,"which is the quick way that magical beings move from place to place. Apparition has been a word since at least the sixteenth century, and throughout its history it has often been used to describe the unexpected appearance of anything, but particularly magical beings. The word derived from the Latin apparare, meaning "to appear." And in this series the animal that's a combination of a horse and eagle is a Hippogriff.

Hippos is "horse" in Greek. The "griff" part is ultimately from the Latin "gryphus," a creature that's half eagle and half lion. Let's speed up.

Expecto Patronum protects against Dementors with the help of a spectral animal, also known as a Patronus, though it's also possible to create an incorporeal Patronus if you want to disguise the form of your Patronus. In Latin, patronus refers to a protector. Expecto patronum means "I await a protector." Accio Firebolt helps Harry when he's fighting a dragon and needs his broom.

ASAP. Accio is also Latin; it means "to summon." Accio Sorting Hat! And incendio, the Latin word for "from fire," is another spell.

It...lights a fire. An animagus can turn into an animal, like Sirius Black becomes Padfoot the dog. The animal in animagus is fairly self-explanatory.

Magus is a term for priests in ancient Persia that eventually got associated with the occult. The potion Felix Felicis gives the drinker good luck. Makes sense, given that both felix and felicis mean "lucky" in Latin.

It can sort of be translated to "luck of luck." In a post on Pottermore, J. K. Rowling said that the word Azkaban, as in Azkaban prison, where magical criminals are kept, is a combination of the real-life prison Alcatraz and the Hebrew word abaddon, meaning place of destruction or depths of hell.

Rowling has also explained pensieve, which is a device that preserves memories. In her words, it's a homonym of pensive but she also wanted to include "sieve" because a pensieve also acts as a sorter of memories, just as a sieve sorts wanted and unwanted materials. Finally, I want to settle a Harry Potter etymology debate for you.

There has been much talk of the meaning of Horcrux. Some claim it came from

Latin: horrore, meaning "to shudder" and crux for "destruction." Others look to

French: d'hors, meaning "outside," and adding crux meaning "essence." But Rowling has claimed that she just wrote syllables until she landed on a word she liked, and she made the decision to keep Horcrux after googling it and seeing that there were no results. Our next episode is about ASMR. Leave your favorite fact about this quiet internet phenomenon in the comments for a chance to be featured in that episode. That will go up on October 2nd. make sure to subscribe here so you don't miss it.

We'll see you then!