Harry Potter Etymology – The Order of the Phoenix

In this post, we examine names of some of the members of the Order and their families.

The Order of the Phoenix was a secret society founded by Albus Dumbledore in the early ‘70s to combat Voldemort and his rising forces. In 1981, after Harry got his scar, the order disbanded, only to be reconvened in 1995 to fight the Second Wizarding War. Their means of communication were Patronuses, and Dumbledore invented the spell that would make Patronuses speak.

JK Rowling was possibly inspired by the Fabian Society, of which one of her favorite authors, Edith Nesbit, was a part. The fact that many members of the Order share names with members of the Fabian Society (Fabian Prewett for the Society itself), offers support to this theory. The Society also had strong ties to another society called Order of the Golden Dawn.

The Order was named after Fawkes. The original Order had 27 members, and the reconstituted Order had 27 members as well, including 14 members from the original.

Edgar Bones- Edgar was an English king who was widely regarded a saint. The name could also have been influenced by the character in Sir Walter Scott’s book , Bride Lammermoor. Edgar Bones was the grandfather of Susan Bones, and the brother of Amelia Bones, who presided over Harry’s disciplinary hearing.

 

Fleur Isabelle Delacour– She joined the Reconstituted Order and fought the Second War, including Battle over Little Whinging and Battle at Hogwarts. According to J. K. Rowling, her name comes from the French phrase fleur de la cour, meaning “flower of the court.” Her middle name stems from belle, meaning beautiful. Her full name roughly translates into ‘Beautiful flower of the court’. Victoire, Bill and Fleur’s daughter, was named after victory, the name’s root, as she was born on the anniversary of the victory at Hogwarts. She could also refer to her mother’s friend, Viktor (Krum). Dominique(son or daughter) means, ‘of the Lord’ and Louis(son) means ‘fame and war’. Appoline, Fleur’s mother, was most likely named after the God Apollo, who was the God of Beauty, among other things. Gabrielle could have been named after the Angel. Gabrielle means ‘God is my Might’.

 

Dedalus Diggle– His namesake, Daedalus, was the character in Greek mythology that everyone’s had a story about in their elementary English textbooks- he fashioned wings of wax for himself and his son, Icarus, and tried to escape Crete by flying like birds. He also built the Labyrinth in Crete. Diggle might be a play on the word giggle in reference to Dedalus’s excitable and over-exuberant nature.

 

Aberforth Dumbledore– In Welsh, aberforth means ‘from the river’. It relates him to the water, as the pub he works in- Hog’s Head- does. A hog, besides being a pig, is also a device that is used to clear water (water hog) from sports grounds. There is a lot of reference to goats, when it comes to Aberforth. He is described as being goat-like in appearance, had a lot of goats in his house, and his patronus that saved Harry was a goat. It could jokingly refer to Aberforth being made the scapegoat in young Albus’s plans as well.

But what exactly was it that he did to goats? No one knows, and JKR hasn’t confirmed anything. Since Grumble, the Grubby Goat from Tales of Beedle, the Bard was his favorite story as a kid and he evidently he liked goats, it is my belief that he was trying to become an Animagus. He could have been studying their physical/internal anatomy and test their reactions to jinxes and potions.

He probably was successful in becoming yet another unregistered Animagus too. After all, no one would have found out about the Marauders had Sirius not revealed their story.

Ariana– In Greek mythology, Ariadne was a princess who helped Theseus slay the Minotaur forever. In the legend, Theseus and the Minotaur revolve around the Labyrinth; the labyrinth itself was a hidden and enclosed place where people were sent to die. Naming the character thus could points to her secretive, hidden and tragic life.

What really happened to Ariana? Aberforth says,“When my sister was six years old, she was attacked, by three Muggle boys. They’d seen her doing magic, spying through the back garden hedge: She was a kid, she couldn’t control it, no witch or wizard can at that age. What they saw, scared them, I expect. They forced their way through the hedge, and when she couldn’t show them the trick, they got a bit carried away trying to stop the little freak doing it. It destroyed her, what they did: She was never right again.” This leaves it very open to interpretation. The first thing that comes to mind is sexual abuse- it is quite possible that Ariana was raped, as the age of the muggle boys were not mentioned. Maybe, she wasn’t raped, but molested to such an extent that it left her permanently damaged. However, considering her young age, and how scared the boys were, it could imply a physical attack, with the boys actually beat up the girl. The boys had been muggles, and might have heard only about old wives’ tales about witches, leading them to accost the defenceless Ariana. When Rowling was questioned about the attack, she said, “I’ll leave it to your imagination”. It was Rowling’s version of a boggart- each of us tends to think what could be the worst thing to happen to a ten year old girl. Incidentally, Rowling said that Albus Dumbledore’s boggart was Ariana’s corpse. And when Dumbledore would see the Mirror of the Erised, he would see his family fully returned and happy and living (yes, he lied to Harry about the socks).

Kendra(mother)- In Anglo-Saxon, Kendra means ‘knowledge and understanding’. This alludes to Kendra being a very intelligent and powerful witch. It might also come from Kendrik, which means ‘a family ruler’ (as she was a matriarch). Alternatively, in English, Kendra means a water baby, which relates to her son Aberforth’s name.

Percival(father)- He was one of the Knights of the Round Table. But what is more interesting is, the name’s root in French, is percer val, which means, ‘to pierce the valley’. Now, this is again a symbolic relation to Kendra’s and Aberforth’s name.

 

Benjy Fenwick is a regular name (they found pieces of his body), just like Caradoc Dearborn (whose body was never recovered)- whose name comes from one of the Knights of the Round Table. Nothing else is known about these two characters, except that Benjy Fenwick could be possibly related to Robbie Fenwick, the boy who bit Hermione’s father at a dental appointment.

 

Elphias Doge- Perhaps Rowling rearranged the names of the French occultist Eliphas. Doge was the name given to rulers in the Middle Ages in Italy. Not to mention it is pronounced like, umm, douche.

 

Arabella FiggAra, from Anna means ‘grace’. Bella, for all you (crazy) Twilight fans, is Latin for ‘beautiful’. The name could be a jab at Mrs. Figg’s very evident lack of grace and attractiveness. Figg could be a variation of fig, as fig leaves are traditionally used to represent an ‘ill concealed secret’ or hiding something that is embarrassing (remember sculptures of nude hot men with fig leaves hiding their privates? It is said that Adam and Eve used similar methods when they decided to feel shameful). This alludes very well to Mrs. Figg’s secret that she kept from Harry.

 

Mundungus Fletcher- Mondongo is a Spanish word for the inner lining of cattle’s stomach, used in cooking. This leads to the now obsolete English word, mundungus, which means rubbish or garbage that smells bad. It also later went on to lend its name to stinky tobacco. According to Rowling, Mundungus was named so as he constantly smelled of tobacco. Fletcher is a maker of arrows; the feathers in the arrows are called fletching.

 

Hestia JonesHestia is the greek goddess of hearth and domesticity(of family). Jones is a common last name. Rowling cleverly incorporates the reference to the Goddess when Hestia Jones greets Harry for the first time while standing beside a toaster!

 

Marlene McKinnonMcKinnon is ‘fair one’ or love. Marlene is a blend of the Latin Maria meaning “star of the sea” and the name Magdalene, of Mary Magdalene.

 

Dorcas Meadowes– Dorcas was supposedly a good friend of Lily and James. The root of her name, meaning a gazelle, is also symbolic of James and Lily’s animagus form and patronuses- a stag and a doe. Her last name, Meadowes could merely be made up to be associated with the gazelle- a meadow.

 

Alastor Moody- In Greek mythology, Alastor is the demon with avenging power that is associated with bloody feuds. The demon who executes court decrees in Hell is also called Alastor- in accordance with Moody’s image of carrying out Ministry’s orders and executing Death Eaters. Moody is a temperamental person, obviously.

 

Alice Longbottom could have been named after Alice in wonderland, for her whimsical and childish qualities. Rowling stated in interview the significance of the candy wrappers: “That idea was one of the very few that was inspired by a real event. I was told what, to me, was a very sad story by someone I know about their elderly mother who had Alzheimer’s, and the elderly mother was in a closed ward. She was very severely demented and no longer recognized her son, but he went faithfully to visit her twice a week, and he used to take her sweets. That was their point of connection; she had a sweet tooth, she recognized him as the sweet-giver. That was very poignant to me. So I embroidered the story. Neville gives his mother what she wants, and (it makes me sad to think of it) she wants to give something back to him, but what she gives back to him is essentially worthless. But he still takes it as worth something because she’s trying to give, so it does mean something, in emotional terms.

Frank Longbottom– Could be named after Frank Sidebottom , the alter ego of the comedian Chris Sievey.

It is said that the Longbottoms were very popular. Hence, Rowling could have given them popular names. Longbottom is a comical name, but it could signify someone who has a bottom- long staying power- as Gran shows. It could also be a tribute to the Longbottom Leaf from LOTR.

Augusta– Augusta was the first name of Neville’s ‘gran’. Augusta is someone who is venerated and respected- indicative of Neville’s feelings towards his gran.

 

Sturgis Podmore was named after Frank Podmore of the Fabian Society. He is possibly related to Sir Patrick Delaney-Podmore, of the Headless Hunt.

 

Kingsley Shacklebolt– Kingsley Martin was of one of the members of the Fabian Society. Kingsley has a royal note to his name, which is why his codename in Potterwatch was Royal. Shackles and bolts are both methods of imprisonment. A shacklebolt is the screw/bolt that holds together links of a metal chain/shackles. This also hints at Shacklebolt’s Patronus, which is the animal Lynx.

 

Emmeline Vance– Vance is named after a member from the Fabian Society- Emmeline Pankhurst. Emmeline comes from the French root amal- meaning ‘to work’. Vance is someone who lives in a bog.

Other members:

For Albus Dumbledore, Redoubled agent Severus Snape– Refer to Great Wizards

Fabian Prewett, Gideon Prewett, Nymphadora Tonks, Arthur Weasley, Molly Weasley, Bill Weasley, Charlie Weasley, Fred Weasley, George Weasley, Ron Weasley– Refer to PureBlood Families

James Potter, Lily Potter, Harry Potter, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, defected Order member Peter Pettigrew– Refer to The Marauders & Dursleys.

Minerva McGonagall, Rubeus Hagrid– coming up soon.

Hermione Granger– coming up soon.

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2 comments on “Harry Potter Etymology – The Order of the Phoenix

  1. Nadira

    Hi there. I noticed you wrote Fleur de la Coeur means flower of the court. But Coeur is french for heart. So that should be flower of the heart.

    1. Sandrova

      Well caught! I meant “cour”. Corrected it now, thanks! 🙂

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