Harry Potter Characters: What Do Their Names Mean?
Ever wonder why J.K. Rowling gave the different characters in her Harry Potter books the name that she did? The list below outlines the characters and what their name means. It’s amazing how much goes on inside of Rowling’s head – or the head of most great writers and storytellers – while creating their masterpieces. RIPT Apparel has some amazing Harry Potter T-shirts, but lets take a look into what some of the names on those t-shirts actually mean.
Meanings of The Harry Potter Character Names
Aberforth – In Gaelic, it means “from the river.”
Abraxas – The supreme Gnostic Deity. Had the body of a man, the head of a cock, and serpents for feet. It is believed “Abra-cadabra” originated from his name.
Alastor – It means “defender of mankind.”
Albus – In Latin, it means “white”. Wisdom.
Alecto – In Greek mythology, Alecto was one of the Furies. Her name is derived from the Greek “alektos,” meaning “unceasing in anger.”
Alphard – Perhaps derived from the dominant star in the constellation Alpha Hydra, the Water Serpent. Alphard can mean “the heart of the serpent” or in Arabic, “the solitary one.”
Ambrosius Flume – As the founder of Honeydukes, his first name most likely comes from the word “ambrosia,” which is especially sweet and delicious. A “flume” is a “narrow tunnel” that usually has something flowing through it. Combining the names, he can be seen as a supplier of sweets.
Amos – In the Bible, Amos was a prophet who tried to make the people understand that without morals and prayers, salvation wouldn’t come.
Amycus – Another Death Eater who broke into Hogwarts. In Greek mythology, the son of Poseidon and Melia, a champion boxer and king of mythical people.
Andromeda – In Greek mythology, Andromeda should be married to her uncle Phineus but marries Perseus, the famous hero, instead. . Phineus sounds like Phineas Nigellus, Sirius’ great-great-grandfather. In the Old Testament, Phineas kills an Israelite man for being in love with a woman who belongs to another ethnical group. As our Phineas was a Slytherin teacher, this can’t be coincidence!
Arabella – Name translates as “prayerful.” Also means “eagle” or “heroine.” “Eagle eye” is slang for someone who is very attentive and watches over something or someone.
Aragog – “Arachnid” means spider and “Gog” was the name of a legendary giant. Combined, the name means “giant spider.” Also possibly derived from the Greek word “agog,” meaning “leader.”
Arcturus – The fourth brightest star in the sky, located within the handle of ‘The Plough.’ Its name derives from Ancient Greek, meaning “bear guard”.
Argus – In Greek mythology, Argus was a monster that had a hundred eyes and was ever-so-watchful. The name “Argus” means “bright and watchful.” Sounds like Filch.
Ariana – of Welsh origin meaning “silver.” Also a derivation of the Greek “Ariadne” meaning ‘most Holy.’
Arthur – Could represent King Arthur. Arthur Weasley sounds like Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington, who won the Battler of Waterloo.
Bagman – A person who collects money, as for racketeers.
Bagshot – A town in Surrey, England. The name is thought to be derived from a tribe and the Anglo-saxon word for “The place of” meaning “the place of Bacca’s tribe” though Bag could also mean badger, “the place of the Badger”, creating a reference to Hufflepuff.
Bane – Means “nemesis,” “bringer of ruin,” “pernicious to well-being,” “the agent or instrument of ruin or woe,” or in Old English “slayer” or “murderer.”
Bathilda – The name Bathilda is of Old German origin, and its meaning is “woman warrior”.
Bellatrix – “Bella” is a construct of the word “bellum” meaning “war” and “trix” refers to “a woman in power.”
Binns, Professor – A “bin” is what the British call “a garbage can.” Many students consider Professor Binns’ information to be rubbish. In Northern England, “Binns” is a slang term for glasses, possibly referring to the professor’s academic nature.
Blaise – Blaise was the teacher of Merlin. From the Roman name Blasius, which means “lisping.” From the Latin “blaesus.”
Bode – To be an omen. When things are said to not “bode” well for somebody, it usually implies dark times ahead. It also means “a stop or delay.”
Brian – From Old Celtic “bre” meaning “hill” or by extension “high, noble.” Brian Boru was an Irish king who thwarted Viking attempts to conquer Ireland in the 11th century. People associate Brian as a last name but believe it’s derived from Brian Boru.
Bullstrode – A “bull” is “an adult male bovine animal” and “strode” means to “be astride of” or “straddle.”
Burke – Most likely named after the famous murderer and body snatcher William Burke. He used to operate in Edinburgh around 1740, and considering J.K. Rowling comes from Edinburgh, this is too much of a coincidence.
Cadogan, Sir – Cadogan is a Welsh name meaning “terrible and fierce in battle.”
Caratacus – the Latin version of the old Welsh name Caradog, meaning ‘”beloved.”
Cassandra – A prophetess. The daughter of Priam, king of Troy. She foresaw the fall of Troy. After spurning Apollo’s amorous advances, the sun god gave Cassandra the gift of prophecy .
Cedric – Old English for “chief” or “warleader.”
Charlie – A diminutive of Charles, which means “manly” and “strong.”
Cho Chang – Cho is Japanese for “butterfly” and in Chinese means “autumn.” Chang is Chinese for “free” or “unhindered.” In Chinese, “chou chang” means “melancholy.”
Cole, Mrs. – Similar to role she plays as head of Tom Riddle’s orphanage in Half-Blood Prince, in Jane Austen’s Emma, there is a character named Mrs. Cole who serves much of the same role. We all know this is one of Jo’s favorite books.
Colin – Means “youth, child, or victor.” Also means “young dog,” which fits his devotion to Harry.
Cormac – Cormac is of Irish origin meaning “charioteer.” Also means “son of defilement.” Cormac was the son of a King in Celtic legend. He was on a mission when he was put under a spell by a jealous lover of one of his competitors. Funny how Hermione puts Cormac under a spell during Quidditch tryouts so Ron can get on the team.
Cornelius – See Lucius.
Creevey – From Irish origin, meaning ‘prolific’ – possibly a reference to the creevey brothers’ persistence or from “Creeve” =”to burst,” suggesting the Creevey brothers’ excitability.
Crookshanks – “Crook” comes from “crooked,” meaning “bent or not straight,” and “shank” is a “leg or a leg-like part.” J.K. Rowling said herself she gave Hermione’s cat “bandy-legs” and Crookshanks is often described as being “bow-legged.”
Dedalus – Daedalus was a famous Athenian inventor from Greek mythology who built the Labyrinth for King Minos and helped make wings for himself and his son, Icarus, amongst other things.
Demelza – Demelza House is Dan Radcliffe’s favorite charity.
Diggory – Could be an allusion to Digory Kirke, a character from The Chronicles of Narnia, specifically The Magician’s Nephew. He grew up to be the Professor in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. This character had a strong sense of right and wrong, was loyal to his friends, kept his promises, and loved his mother.
Dobby – A fatuous or foolish person. Also, a weave of cloth that is durable and natural-looking. Finer stores still sell shirts made of “dobby” weave.
Dolohov – This Death Eater shares the name of a trouble-making character in Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace.
Dolores – Of Latin origin. Means “lady of sorrows or pain” . In Greek, “doleros” means “deceitful.” In Spanish, “dolor” means “to have pain.”
Dudley – An aristocratic surname used as a first name since the 19th Century. Also, a town in one of England’s largest cities – Birmingham.
Dumbledore – Means “Bumblebee” in Old English. J.K. Rowling has said that she chose this name because she imagined Dumbledore walking around the castle, humming to himself.
Dursley – A town near J.K. Rowling’s birthplace.
Elphias Doge – Doge was the title of the ruler of Venice from the 8th to 18th Century. “Corno,” meaning horn in Italian.
Errol – Means “wanderer” in Old English.
Evans – A Celtic name that means “young warrior.”
Fawkes – Guy Fawkes was an English Catholic who, in 1605, tried to blow up the House of Parliament as an act of rebellion against the new Protestant government.
Fenrir – Fenrir or Fenris in Norse mythology is a gigantic and terrible monster in the shape of a wolf.
Fifi LaFolle – Author of Enchanting Encounters. Her name translates as Fifi “The Insane One.”
Figg – “Fig” means “not literal” and a “fig leaf” is something that “conceals or camouflages.”
Filch – Means to “steal.”
Filius – In Latin, “filius” means “son.”
Firenze – Italian name for the city of Florence. Florence was the same city that the famous astronomer Galileo lived in for most of his life.
Fleur Delacour – Means “Flower of the Court” in French. It could also be a clever play on the similar French word “coeur” meaning “heart” .
Flitwick – A town in England. It could also be interpreted as the movement of a wand – flit and wick.
Florean Fortescue – “Florean” means “flower” in Latin.
Fluffy – Cerberus, the three-headed dog was the guardian of the underworld in Greek mythology. Orpheus got past Cerberus by lulling it to sleep with music.
Fudge – “Fudge,” besides being a delicious chocolate confection, can mean “nonsense.” As a verb, it means to “evade” or to “falsify.” In technological jargon, it means “to perform in an incomplete but marginally acceptable way.”
Gabrielle – In Hebrew, Gabrielle means “hero of God.”
Gaunt – To be very skinny especially because of hunger or disease or cold; to have a bony body.
Gellert – Gellert is the Hungarian version of Gerard, which comes from the Germanic ger, “spear”, and hard, “brave, hardy”.
Gilderoy – A highwayman known for being handsome. May also come from the word “gilded,” which is defined as having a “pleasing, showy appearance, which covers something of little worth.” The name “Roy” is Old French for “regal one” or “king.”
Ginny – “Ginevra,” an Italian female and woman of the people, her name means “Juniper” as in evergreen tree. However, J.K. Rowling has also said that she picked the name because she wanted something different and special for the only Weasley girl!
Godric – Means “power of god.” Derived from the Old English “god” combined with “ric,” meaning “power” and “rule.” Name became conmmonly used after the Norman conquest.
Granger – A granger was also a very common person, just like Hermione’s parents. Granger is the name of a character from the book Fahrenheit 451. He is the leader of a group of intellectuals known as “The Book People,” whose goal is the preservation of literature in the face of their government’s efforts to burn and destroy all books. A possible reference to Hermione’s fanatical love of books?
Greyback – Similar to the term “silverback” used for the dominant male in a band of gorillas. We all know Fenrir Greyback is the dominant werewolf in the wizarding world.
Grindelwald – Perhaps derived from the Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf character Grendel, the demon.
Gryffindor – A “griffin” was “a creature in mythology with the body of a lion and the head of an eagle.” Also known in Greek Mythology as the “gryphon,” it was the protector of a god’s gold from mortal men. In Greek, “gryphon” means “protector of wealth.” In French “d’or” means “of gold,” one of the Gryffindor House colors.
Hagrid – J.K. Rowling said: “Hagrid is also another old English word meaning if you were Hagrid, it’s a dialect word meaning you’d had a bad night. Hagrid’s a big drinker. He has a lot of bad nights.” Grid was a Norse giantess known for having a terrible temper. “Ha” is a variant of the Old West Norse name element “half.” So, “Ha-Grid” may just mean “Half-Grid” or more notably “Half-Giant.” ” Haggard” can also mean “appearing worn and exhausted, gaunt; wild or distraught in appearance; a disheveled individual.” From the Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy, the Old English term “hag-rid” means “indigestion” . Found in the exact same paragraph as “Dumbledore.” Coincidence?
Hannah – “Hannah” means “grace.”
Harry – J.K. Rowling’s favorite boy’s name. The name Harry is of Anglo-Saxon origin and means “power.”
Hedwig – Means “refuge in battle.” Mentioned in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.
Hepzibah – The name comes from the Hebrew “Cheftzibah,” which literally translated means “my desire is for it” or “my will is in it.”
Hermes – The Greek Messenger. The god of merchants, shepards, thieves, and guardian of the roads.
Hermione – Means “well-born,” “earthy,” or “stone.” Refers to peony-type flowers. The feminine version of Hermes. In Greek mythology, was often known as the patron saint of high magic.
Hestia – Member of the Order of the Phoenix. In Greek mythology, Hestia was the goddess of the hearth and domestic activity.
Horace – English and French form of Horatius, a Roman family name possibly derived from Latin “hora,” meaning “hour, time, and season.”
Hugo – meaning “intelligent” in Latin, German and Spanish.
Inigo Imago – “Inigo” is a male name meaning “ardent or fiery” and “Imago” means “image.” Imago Therapy is also a psychoanalytic technique used for helping bring out meaing from the subconscious.
James – Means “supplanter.” To “supplant” is” to to take the place of, or substitute, especially through intrigue or underhanded tactics.”
Joseph Wronski – Polish seeker for which the Quidditch move, the Wronski Feint, is named. Josef Wronski was a Polish mathematician born in 1778 and was widely regarded as an eccentric by the greater academic community due to his work on perpetual motion machines, machines intended to predict the future, and attempting to square the circle Wronski’s most famous and lasting contribution to mathematics was the Wronskian, a function used in linear algebra and differential equations.
Kreacher – Creature . Reminiscent of the German “kriecher” derived from “kriechen,” meaning “to creep, crawl, cringe, grovel, tuckle, or fawn upon.”
Krum – In Swedish and Norwegian, “krum” means “curved,” which is interesting considered how he is described as being uncoordinated on land.
Lestrange – To be “estranged” means to be “removed from society.” In French, “etrange” means “strange” or “weird.”
Libatius – The author of Advanced Potion Making. A libation is a sacrifice to the gods.
Lily – A flower symbolizing purity and innocence. It is the flower commonly used during the Easter holiday and symbolizes immortality.
Lockhart – Lockhart is a world renowned cognitive psychologist whose particular interest is in the study of memory and levels of processing. He did a lot of research in this area in the late 1970s. Town in Australia near Wagga Wagga . A possible play on words as he seems to have so many women’s “heart locked” on him.
Longbottom – The name itself is considered quite humorous, but “bottom” is an old word for “staying power.”
Lucius – A Latin male first name. A character in Shakespeare’s play Julius Casesar, Lucius is the servant of Brutus, the leader of the conspirators who plot against and assassinate Caesar.
Ludo – Latin meaning “I play.” Fitting, as Ludo Bagman likes to “play his luck” by betting on sports and is the former head of the Department of Games and Sports.
Luna – The Roman goddess of the moon. “Luna” means “moon” in Latin, Romanian and Italian. In Romanian, it also translates to “month.” The word “lunatic” is also derived from the word “lunar,” as it was believed in old times that strange or odd behavior was caused by the moon. “Luna” is a term for “silver” in alchemy.
Lupin – “Lupus” is the Latin derivative for “wolf.” Canis Lupus is the scientific name for wolf. To be described as “lupine” means to “resemble a wolf.”
Malfoy – In Latin, “malus” means “bad” and “mal” means “pale.” “Mal foi” means “bad faith, an act with bad intentions, or a malicious act” in French. “Mal de foi” means a “loss of faith.” The similar French phrase “Mal fait” can be interpeted as “badly made” or “evil deeds.” In Portuguese, “Mal foi” means “was bad” or “is bad.” In Arthurian legends, Lancelot is sometimes called “Le Chevallier Mal Fait” . “Foy” means “a farewell feast, drink, or gift, as at a wedding.”
Marietta – Means “Little Bitter.”
Marvolo – Implies “marvelous,” but also contains the Latin root “volo” meaning ” I wish, want, will, ordain, suppose, maintain that, be willing, to mean, signify, or denote.” “Volo” also means “to fly, speed, or move rapidly.”
Mason, Mr. – A mason is an extremely skilled builder.
McDonald, Natalie – In Goblet of Fire , a girl named Natalie McDonald was sorted into Gryffindor House. She was a real girl who was suffering from a terminal illness. She wrote J.K. Rowling a letter. J.K. Rowling wrote back to Natalie and her letter included an outline of Goblet of Fire so if Natalie died, she would know how the book went.
McGonagall, Professor – The name is Scottish and is from the Celtic name “Conegal,” which means “the bravest.” The “Mc” in McGonagall means “son of.” The bravery fits well with her first name, Minerva, the goddess of wisdom and war.
Merope – Means “bee-eater” and also translates to “eloquent” and “mortal.” Meropia is a condition of partial blindess. The name Merope is used numerous times in Greek mythology.
Millicent – Millicent is derived from the Norman French name Melisende, which was itself derived from the Germanic name Amalaswinth. It is composed of the Germanic elements “amal” meaning “to work or labor” and “swinth,” meaning “strength.” This was the name of a daughter of Charlemagne. Her name also means ambitious.
Minerva – The Roman counterpart to the Greek goddess named Athena. Both women in their respective mythologies represent war, handicraft and practical reason or wisdom.
Moody – In Hawthorne’s The Blithedale Romance there is a character called Moodie who wears a patch over one of his eyes. There is of course, the traditional meaning of “moody,” which simply means to “not be in a good mood.”
Morfin – Probably taken from Celtic myth. Morfan was the son of the Celtic Fertility God Ceridwen and was a fearsome warrior.
Mundungus – A stinking tobacco. Very similiar to the word “mondongo,” which in Spanish is the word for a cow’s “stomach”.
Myrtle, Moaning – A type of evergreen shrub that is often overlooked because of its plainness.
Nagini – “Naga” is “snake” in Sanskrit and “Nagin” means “female snake” in Urdu.
Narcissa – “Narcissism” means “the excessive love of oneself.”
Neville – Old French for “from the new farmland.”
Nicholas Flamel – Was a real alchemist, and supposedly DID create the Philosopher’s Stone.
Nigellus – Nigellus might be derived from the Latin word “niger” which means “black, dark, and unlucky.” “Nigellus” is preclassical and medieval Latin, meaning “somewhat black.”
Nimbus – A rain or storm cloud. Nimbus was a god in Greek mythology. “Nimbus” is also a derivative of “nimble” – “quick, light or agile in movement or action.” Perfect qualities for a broomstick.
Norris, Mrs. – The character is a busybody, always into everyone’s business and trying to run things the way she wants to, even though she’s not really in a position of power. Sounds like Filch’s favorite feline!
Nymphadora – “Nymphadora” translates as “Gift of the Nymphs.” A “nymph,” in Greek mythology, refers to “a member of group of female ‘spirits’ found in different types of nature.” They are further classified by where they were found. They also had the ability to change shapes, a very clear connection to Tonks’ own ability to shapeshift. In Latin, “nympha” translates to “a bride” and “Nymphae” to “the Nymphs.”
Olympe Maxime – From French “Olympe” means “Olympus,” referring to Mount Olympus, the home of the gods in Ancient Greece. Maxime could come from the French “maxim,” meaning a “succint formulation of some fundamental principle or rule of conduct.” Very appropriate for a headmistress. Both names give a sense of extreme size, with “Maxime” also sounding like the word “maximum,” meaning the largest in size.
Orion – His name means “dweller of the mountain” and he is known for his prowess as a hunter and lover. Bellatrix forms one corner of the Orion constellation. In Greek mythology, Orion was in love with Merope. He was killed when he stepped on Scorpio the scorpion.
Padfoot – Yorkshire name for a large phantom black dog. It was as big as a calf and haunted lonely roads.
Padma – Means “lotus” in Sanskrit. In Hindu myth, this was another name of both the hero Rama and the goddess Lakshmi.
Pansy – Type of flower. Derived from the Old French “pensee,” which means “thought.”
Parvati – Parvati is a Hindu goddess married to the Hindu god, Shiva the Destroyer. She gave birth to a baby boy named Ganesh, whom Shiva beheaded, but replaced the old head with an elephant head after Parvati reamed him out. Sister of the Goddess of the Ganges, Padma. There was a character named “Parvati the Witch” in Salman Rushdie’s novel Midnight’s Children, in which the names “Padma” and “Patil” were also significant. Parvati means “daughter of the mountain.”
Patil – Is its own surname and is quite common in the state of Maharashtra in India. It is pronounced “PAH-till” and is completely different from “Patel” other than them both being Indian surnames.
Peeves – “Peeve” means “little devil” or something that “gets on your nerves” .
Percival – The name itself means “pierces the veil,” “pierces the valley,” or “destroyer.” It also translates as “bringer of peace” and “from the pear tree.”
Perenelle – The wife of the famous inventor of the Sorcerer’s Stone, Nicholas Flamel, her name refers to “perennial,” meaning “continuing without interruption.”
Pettigrew – Pettigrew could be interpreted two ways: “petty-grew” meaning he grew into a petty person or “pet-I-grew”. Also, from the French “petit gros” or “little, fat person.”
Petunia – A trumpet-shaped flower, with white or purple blossoms. The petunia symbolizes anger and resentment.
Phineas – In Hebrew, means “serpent’s mouth” or “loudmouth.”
Pigwidgeon – A “pigwidgin” is a term for “a small fairy, and later, anything that was small.” A “widgeon” is kind of “duck.”
Pince, Madam – “Pincer” is French for “to pinch”.
Pius – from the Latin word pius, the meaning of which is similar to the English “pious” from piety, meaning a desire and willingness to perform religious duties.
Pomfrey, Madam – At the end of Prisoner of Azkaban, Dumbledore refers to Madam Pomfrey as “Poppy.” A poppy plant can be used to make opium and other drugs.
Pomona – Pomona is the name of a Roman divinity. According to Edith Hamilton’s book Mythology, “she cared for fruits and orchards and that was all she cared for.
Potter – A name J.K. Rowling has always been fond of since childhood. “Potter’s Field” is often the name given to a cemetery where a city or town buries those who have gone unclaimed or unwanted.
Prongs – A slender pointed or projecting part; a point of an antler. Clearly referring to the stag that represents Harry Potter’s Patronus and James Potter’s Animagus form.
Puddifoot, Madam – The word “Puddifoot” is name for “someone shaped like a barrel.” From the word “puddy” meaning “round-bellied” or “fat.” Those who are in love are often said to be “weak in the knees,” so it is not a far stretch to say they have “puddy feet.” Madam Puddifoot’s shop is often frequented by young couples.
Quirinus – The name Quirinus is derived from the words “co-viri,” meaning “of two men.”
Quirrell – Perhaps derived from the word “quarrel,” which means “an angry dispute or argument.” Also sounds like squirrel, for a nervous, nut-eating rodent that lives in trees. The professor was a scared, shaky man who behaved a lot like one, later an act to cover up his allegiance to Voldemort. Possibly from “querulous” meaning full of “doubts and questions.”
Rabastan – “Rastaban” means “serpent’s head.” Not very surprising for a Death Eater. Rabastan is also a star in the constellation Beta Draconis.
Ravenclaw – Ravens are known to be smart birds. Makes sense that Ravenclaws are known as wise, quick learners.
Regulus – The name of the brightest star in the Alpha Leo constellation.
Remus – Twin brother of Romulus. The King sent the two twin babies out to a river and tried to drown them, but a female wolf, instead of killing them, nursed them after finding the two boys.
Riddle – A “riddle” is “a form of word puzzle designed to test someone’s ingenuity in arriving at its solution.”
Rodolphus – A variation of the name Ralph. It is of Old English origins and means “wolf counsel.”
Ron – Interesting when taken in conjunction with Arthur. He is the advisor to the King. Comparisons can be made here between Ron being an advisor to Harry on all of his choices and adventures.
Ronan – An Irish saint. A “ronin” was “a name given to a masterless samurai, a wanderer,” during the Feudal Period of Japan that lasted from 1185 to 1868.
Rose – Originally a Norman form of a Germanic name, which was composed of the elements hrod “fame” and heid “kind, sort, type”.
Rosmerta – In Gaulish Celtic mythology, Rosmerta was the goddess of fire, warmth, and abundance.
Rowena – “Rowena” is Old English for “red hair,” which ties in with Jo’s fascination for those with red hair. It means “rugged” in Gaelic. In Welsh poetry, Rowena is named “mother of the nation,” which could link in to her being a founder of Hogwarts.
Rubeus – “Rubeus” means “red.” “Ruber” is also Latin for “red,” and can mean “ruddy”.
Rufus – Latin for “red-haired.”
Salazar – António de Oliveira Salazar was the Fascist dictator in Portugal at the same time that Mussolini, Franco and Hitler.
Sanguini – One of the only vampires we have met. “Sanguis” is the Latin word for “blood.” “Sang” means “blood” in French. “Sanguinary” means “blood-thirsty.”
Scamander, Newt – Magizoologist who wrote and narrated Fantastic Beasts. Scamander was the son of Andromache and Hector. Sounds like “salamander.” A newt is kind of salamander.
Scorpius – Like Draco, Scorpius is a star constellation in the Southern Hemisphere.
Scrimgeour – A possible connection to this Family Crest?
Severus – Sever means “to cut off.” Snape appears to have “cut off” his ties with the Dark Lord through the first five books, and then with Dumbledore and the Order in Half-Blood Prince. “Severe” means “cruel, strict” – two characteristics that accurately describe the Potions Professor. Sounds very similar to the Latin word “servus,” meaning “servant.”
Shacklebolt – As an Auror, Kingsley is respsonible for sending evil wizards to Azkaban. Both “shackle” and “bolt” refer to means of imprisonment.
Shunpike, Stan – A “shunpike” is a “road people use to avoid paying a toll or fare.”
Sibyll – Sibyll comes from the Sibyls, who were famous prophets in ancient mythology. Their prophecies were often not decipherable until an event had come to pass. In The Aeneid, the Sibyl was responsible for leading Aeneas to the Underworld.
Sinistra, Professor – The Latin “sinister” meaning ” on the left.” In ancient cultures, the left side was often associated with evil, black magic or bad luck.
Sirius – Named after the star, Sirius, also known as the Dog Star or Great Dog . It is the brightest star in the sky, often called “scorching,” which quite suits his personality.
Skeeter, Rita – “Skeeter” is short for “mosquito.” As most people can attest, mosquitoes are among the most annoying lifeforms on this planet.
Slytherin – Sounds like “slither,” as in to slither like a snake. No coincidence the Slytherin House is represented by a snake. Salazar Slytherin was also a Parselmouth . Slytherins are known to be “sly” individuals and snakes are known to be very “sly” creatures.
Smith – The most common surname. Derived from the Anglo-Saxon “Smitan”, meaning to “smite” or “strike.”
Snape – A town in England. Also based after a person J.K. Rowling knew.
Sprout, Professor – “To sprout” means to “spring up and grow.”
Susan – Derived from the Hebrew name “Shoshana” meaning “lily or rose.”
Thicknesse – an uncommon surname. may mean “thick-tongue” from the Proto-Germanic word nessye , meaning “tongue”. Otherwise, it may simply be a derivation of the “ness” place name, meaning a cape or headline.
Tom Marvolo Riddle – If you rearrange the letters, it spells: “I am Lord Voldemort.” The name “Tom” means “twin.”
Tonks – A “tonk” means “a fool or an idiot,” “a powerful hit or stroke,” and “to strike.”
Trelawney – Trelawney is a Cornish family tracing back to Saxon days.
Trevor – From a surname originally from a place meaning “big village.” From Welsh, “tref” meaning “village” and “mawr” meaning “large.”
Umbridge – Sounds like “umbrage,” which is “a feeling of anger caused by an offense.” In Latin, “umbra” means “shadow, shade, or ghost” and can also be interpreted as “jealous or suspicious of another” or “standing in one’s light or way.” The phrase “to take umbridge” means to “cause offense and make trouble.” She certainly does this for Harry. The plural “umbrae” means “shadows”. In this context it can be used as shadowing or following other individuals – just how Umbridge does with the Ministry of Magic.
Vane, Romilda – From the English word “vain” – because that’s exactly what she comes across as in Half-Blood Prince.
Vector, Professor – A “vector” is “a mathematical quantity completely specified by a magnitude and a direction.”
Victoire – ‘Victory’ in French.
Viktor – His first name means the “victorious one” – appropriate for the best Seeker in the Quidditch World Cup.
Voldemort, Lord – There was a dark wizard in medieval times named Voldermortist. In another language, Voldermortist means “Lord of Evil” or “Dark Lord.” In many European languages, “mort” or “mord” refer to “death or evil.” In French, “vol-de-mort” means “flight from death”. Also in French, “vol” translates as “the act of stealing,” giving Voldemort’s name the alternate meaning to “steal from death.” In Norwegian and Danish, “vold” means “violence.” In Danish, “volde” means “to cause” and could be derived from the Latin “valde,” meaning “great, exceedingly, strongly, powerfully.” Using these definitions Lord Voldemort’s name would then mean “excessive, great, or extreme death.”
Walburga – Sirius’ mother. “Walburga” means “rule of the fortress”, from the German “wald” meaning “rule” and “burg” meaning “fortress.”
Weasley – From J.K. Rowling’s site weasels were known to have a bad reputation, especially in Ireland, as an unfortunate animal. The Weasleys and the weasel both share red hair. The Weasleys live near Ottery St. Catchpole, and it is interesting that a family with weasel in their surname lives near a town that has otter in its name . Also, in Goblet of Fire, the group all go to Stoatshead Hill to take the Portkey to the Triwizard Tournament. A stoat is another relative of the weasel family.
Weird Sisters, The – The Weird Sisters were three witches in Shakespeare’s play Macbeth who could foresee the future, and elicited evil in Macbeth by means of equivocation.
Wilhelmina – In German, this name means “desire to protect.” This would explain why she teaches Care of Magical Creatures.
Witherwings – “Withers” are “the place on a horse where the neck and shoulder muscles join.” It is the peak at the top of the shoulders and the base of the neck, and is the tallest point of the horse. It is where measurements are taken from. It is where the wings would attack if a horse had them. The “wings” referring to the wings of an eagle. To “wither,” also meaning to “lose freshness, vigor, or vitality.” It is suiting his name is changed to this after Sirius dies.
Wulfric – St. Wulfric was described as a hermit. J.K. Rowling characterizes Dumbledore as a loner. St. Wulfric was a worldly man, as was Dumbledore. St. Wulfric was born in Bristol, the same town Hagrid flew over from Godric’s Hollow. St. Wulfric supposedly had the gift of prophecy.
Xenophilius – “Xenophobia” is the term used for fear of strangers or foreigners and “xenophilia” means love or affection for alien things or people.
Zabini – Derived from the Sabine tribe.
Zacharias – Greek form of Zechariah. From the Hebrew name “Zekaryah,” which means “remembers God.”
If you want to dig even deeper into where the Harry Potter names came from, there are a ton of great information about the origin of Harry Potter Characters at Mugglenet.com as well.