Harry Potter Etymology- Wizarding Schools

There are five known wizarding schools, four of whose names have been revealed. These are Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in Scotland, Beauxbatons Academy of Magic in France, Durmstrang Institute in Scandinavia, Mahoutokoro in Japan, and a Brazilian wizarding school of an unknown name. [1]

Hogwarts was founded sometime in the 9th or 10th century by Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff, Rowena Ravenclaw, and Salazar Slytherin. Rowena Ravenclaw once had a dream that a warty hog was leading her to a cliff by the lake. She then sought out this location, and the four built their castle there in secret. [2] This warty hog could have derived from a warthog and given its name to Hogwarts. Rowling speculates that she might have subconsciously picked up the name from the Hogwort plant (Croton Capitatus), a type of lily, which she saw while walking in Kew Gardens. [3]


Hogwort flower

Hogwort flower


Beauxbatons is a 700 year old school, located near the city of Cannes, in southern France. The name of the institution is born from the French words beaux and bâtons. “Beaux” translates to “beautiful”, and “batons” means “sticks” or “wands”. So there you go, beautiful, skinny girls with beautiful wands.

Durmstrang is located in the northern parts of Norway [4] and was established somewhere around the 13th century. The name is a spoonerism for Sturm und Drang, a German phrase, meaning “storm and stress”. The phrase was the name given to an artistic movement in Germany in the second half of the 18th century. Wikipedia states that during this movement, “extremes of emotion were given free expression in reaction to the perceived constraints of rationalism..”. Sounds a lot like our Durmstrang allowing the practice of Dark Arts, does it not?

Mahoutokoro is relatively shrouded in mystery. We only know that the school is in Japan, and the wands there are made of wood from cherry trees. Mahou is the Japanese word for “magic”, and tokoro means “site” or “location”.


[1] Mahoutokoro was revealed in Pottermore. Bill Weasley had a pen pal who went to a school in Brazil, as mentioned by Ron in Goblet of Fire.
[2] Revealed on the WOMBAT quizzes conducted by JK Rowling on her website.
[3] http://www.accio-quote.org/articles/2001/1001-sydney-renton.htm
[4] While “Scandinavia” could mean either Sweden or Norway, Krum’s description of the location of the castle (mountainous region, surrounded by lakes) fits the geography of northern Norway perfectly. Furthermore, mountains of northern Norway are located in fjords, which could be the reason why the school uses ships for travel.


3 comments on “Harry Potter Etymology- Wizarding Schools

  1. Azhagarasu

    So, Hogwarts was not fiction? And the other three are real locations?

    1. Sandrova

      It is fiction, of course. It’s a fictional castle located in a real country.

  2. passingthru

    this is really old but just an fyi jk made an american school the description is out on potter more

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