Thursday, 20 August 2015

what's in a name? (harry potter update #1)

Full disclosure here: my Harry Potter re-read isn't going so well. I haven't even finished Philosopher's Stone yet, if we're being completely honest. My excuse is that BookTube-a-Thon took up a week of potential HP reading time, and my newfound obsession with the Throne of Glass series isn't helping much. So I am hereby revoking my promise to have the series done by September. Basically, I'll finish it when I finish it. Definitely Hopefully by January, when my Harry Potter class starts. 

One of the things I've noticed so far is that J.K. Rowling is really quite fantastic and placing little hidden eggs throughout the text. It's especially fascinating look at these hints from the perspective of someone who has already read the series, watched the movies, bought the t-shirts, the whole nine yards. 

Today, I'm going to be talking about some of the names I found particularly interesting after doing a little bit of research! A lot of this was inspired by the MuggleNet Academia podcast I talked about a few weeks ago (the one that features my professor). 

Harry Potter - This is actually kind of a funny one. The word "harry" means "to persistently carry out attacks on" and "persistently harass". In the 1700's, "potter" was sometimes used as a term that basically meant "to poke again and again," or "to occupy oneself in a trifling way." If we're looking at this from Voldemort's perspective, Harry's definitely a giant pain in the ass. 

Voldemort - I feel like everyone knows this, but here we go. French translation: "flight of death." Considering the lengths ol' Voldy goes to in order to escape his demise, this is incredibly accurate. 

Hermione Granger - Hermione is a feminine version of Hermes, the messenger god in Greek mythology. He was also known for being the guide to the Underworld (among other things). Hermione's vast knowledge of essentially every subject makes this a pretty fitting name for her. 

Vernon Dursley - The name "Vernon" means "of the alder tree." Traditionally, the alder tree is seen as providing a great amount of protection. However reluctant Uncle Vernon was, he did not fail to protect Harry from danger throughout his years living on Privet Drive. 

Petunia Dursley - The petunia is a flower that is used to represent resentment and anger. Aunt Petunia's name is a perfect mirror image of how she felt about her whole situation. 

Rubeus Hagrid - "Rubeus" is a name that means "powerful son". In Norse mythology, Grid was a giantess known for her bad temper; the word "ha" is Norse for "half." So his last name literally means "half giant." 

Remus Lupin - Possibly the most face-palmy one of them all. In Roman mythology, Remus was one of the brothers who was raised by a she-wolf. "Lupus" is Latin for "wolf." How did we not figure this out right away?! 

Xenophilius Lovegood - My personal favourite! Xenophilia is an affection for the unknown or foreign. Paired with a last name that is just a combination of the words "love" and "good," we have a very positive connotation given to the wacky. 

Argus Filch - Argus is a creature in Greek mythology that was known for its hundred eyes, which allowed it to be very watchful and aware of its surroundings. "Filch" means "to steal" - fitting, if we consider his propensity for taking students' possessions (Marauder's Map, anyone?). 

Quirinus Quirrell - In Roman mythology, Janus Quirinus was a two-faced god who had one face looking forward and one looking backward at all times. "Quirrell" is possibly a reference to squirrels, with their nervous, jumpy personalities. 

If you want to look further into this stuff, MuggleNet has a very good, comprehensive list of all the name origins in the Potterverse. I'd definitely suggest checking it out if you're interested; if not, I'll have another update soon! 
4 comments on "what's in a name? (harry potter update #1)"
  1. I wish you luck with your Harry Potter reading! It's worth it, I promise. Join the potterheads :) The names are so fascinating! When you really look into it, it's fascinating how much thought JK Rowling put into those little details.

    Just discovered your blog and followed.. Can't wait to read more!

    1. This will be my third time through the series! I love all the hidden eggs she puts throughout the books, so excited to find even more this time around. :)

    2. Oh gosh I'm sorry I didn't see the re-read part...but yeah I love discover new things each time I read them over again as well!

    3. Not a problem! I'm honestly kind of jealous of the people who get to read it for the first time being a bit older. I was only 12 when Deathly Hallows came out so I feel like I didn't get the full experience the first time, but it's such a good series that you really don't lose any excitement when you read it again and again!