No children’s book series has made a bigger splash in the literary world than Harry Potter. The first book, written by J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was published in the UK in 1997 and for the next ten years both children and adults alike (myself included) would wait with baited breath as a new novel was released. A college sophomore in 2002, I thought the series was for kids and beneath my notice. It took a friend taking a children’s literature course and my own bad break-up for me to break into Harry Potter. Once I started, I couldn’t stop. Only four novels were published and I pre-ordered each of the remaining books, as they came out.
The story of the Boy Who Lived is a magical tale of witchcraft and wizardry set in a boarding school for apprentice wizards. Even as an adult (are you an adult at 20? At thirty-five, I’m still not sure I am), I couldn’t help but be transported and quite wistful that I hadn’t been chosen for Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry when I was eleven. Not since the Chronicles of Narnia have I loved a fantasy book series more.
People take inspiration for one of the most important tasks of their adult life - naming their children - from anywhere. It seems to me, if you’re a fellow Potterhead, taking inspiration from a beloved children’s book series isn’t so far to leap. There are classic names like Edward or George and more fantastical names like Xenophilius, Nymphadora, or Mafalda. Whatever your style, the Harry Potter series has a name for you. Here is a list of twenty-five names from the series that could be perfect for your baby-to-be.
Helena Ravenclaw was the daughter of Rowena Ravenclaw, one of the four original founders of Hogwarts. She is famous for stealing her mother’s diadem (which later turned out to be one of the seven horcruxes needing to be destroyed to defeat Lord Voldemort), seeking to make herself appear cleverer and more important, highlighting her own insecurity. Her appearance is said to be haughty and proud.
Helena, derived from Helen is Greek for torch or source of light. For the past fifteen years its popularity has held steady, ranked between 662 in 2000 and a brief upswing to 499 in 2014. Helena was a favorite of William Shakespeare, having used it in two of his plays. Both Helena Bonham Carter and Danish model Helena Christensen have kept the name alive. If you want a more unique name from the Harry Potter world without delving into the Nymphadoras and Mundungos, Helena might be a nice choice!
Neville Longbottom is a pure blood wizard who shows his true character over and over again throughout the series. He is brave and stands for what is right, even when he barely believes in himself. The first instance of his bravery came early in the series as he stood up to Harry, Ron and Hermione as they were sneaking out of Gryffendor. He wasn’t able to stop them, but sometimes standing up to your peers is the most difficult thing to do. When later told by Lord Voldemort that he shows spirit and bravery (not to mention his pure-blooded-ness) and asked to join the Dark Lord’s ranks, Neville replied, “I’ll join you when Hell freezes over!” He led the student rebellion over Voldemort’s control of Hogwarts.
Neville is a French name meaning “new town,” and is seen mostly in the UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. It is a name that is not in the top 1000 names in the United States, meaning it’s unique! Neville Chamberlain was the British Prime minister from 1937-1940. Honestly, I feel that the most famous Neville of our time is Neville Longbottom. If you really want to demonstrate your love of all things Potter, Neville is a good choice as he was probably among the bravest of the characters.
Penelope Clearwater is the Ravenclaw prefect girlfriend of Percy Weasley, the eldest Weasley brother still attending Hogwarts at the beginning of the series. She is a rule follower, evidenced by her prefect status. Though a minor character, she is still mentioned as late as book seven when Hermione Granger gives her, Penelope’s, name to the death eaters instead of her own for fear of being captured or killed. This lends credibility to the strength of her character that Hermione thought to use it on the spur of the moment in a time of great fear.
Penelope and the nickname it lends itself to, Penny, has had a surprising upturn in popularity in recent years, going from 125th in 2012 to 34th in 2015. Penelope is a Greek name meaning “weaver,” and she was the faithful wife of Odysseus in Homer’s The Odyssey. Though as it was chosen by Tina Fey, Kourtney Kardashian, and Anna Chlumsky for their daughters and because of the popularity of the character, Penny, in The Big Bang Theory, a sitcom by Chuck Lorre, perhaps its upturn in popularity isn’t all that surprising!
Gideon Prewett is the elder brother of Molly Weasley who died during the first wizarding war. He was a brave wizard, standing up for good over evil and it is said that it took five death eaters to kill him and his brother, Fabian. His death occurred before the series began and only shortly after Harry and Ron were born, but this doesn’t make him any less important to the story or the wizarding cause.
Gideon means great warrior, and that is shown through the character of Gideon Prewett. It is moderately popular at number 328 in 2015 and is on an upswing. In the Old Testament, Gideon was a judge called upon by God to rescue the Jews from the Midianites. It is a solid name that isn’t as over-used as some biblical names.
Ronan is a centaur living in the Forbidden Forest and is usually not a friend of humans, being innately distrustful of them. Centaurs have the torso of a man but the body of a horse. Ronan is described as having red hair and a red beard with a horse’s chestnut body and reddish tail. He is said to speak with a doleful tone and have a rather peaceful demeanor.
Ronan is an Irish name meaning “little seal.” In the United States, the name is ranked 335 but in Ireland it is ranked 64! Ronan is the name of the child of Daniel Day-Lewis and his wife, writer-director Rebecca Miller. It’s also the name of a Taylor Swift song!
Seamus Finnigan is an Irish wizard and Gryffendor student at Hogwarts. He is one of the main doubters of Harry Potter’s claim that Lord Voldemort had returned, though he ultimately joined Dumbledore’s Army and apologized to Harry. He even remained at Hogwarts during Book 7 while Hogwarts was under the control of Lord Voldemort and fought bravely in the Battle of Hogwarts.
Seamus is an Irish name meaning “supplanter.” It is the Irish form of the name James. There is a Pink Floyd song called, “Seamus.” There are many famous Seamuses, mostly Irish, including Seamus Dean, an Irish novelist and poet and Seamus Anthony, a famous Irish footballer. For Potterheads that are tired of the name Sean, Seamus might be the way to go! Especially since it’s not amazingly popular in the United States yet. Your baby probably won’t have 2 other Seamuses in their class.
Gabrielle is the younger sister of Fleur Delacour and is one quarter Veela (Veela are semi-human beings with glowing hair, beautiful and similar to the Sirens of Greek mythology). She is described as Fleur in miniature with silvery waist-length hair and a dazzling smile. She seems to have a very grateful and generous demeanor despite her air of superiority.
Gabrielle is an elegant name of descent meaning “God is my strength.” It has had great popularity in the United States in the early 2000’s, reaching as high as 49. In 2015, however it is descending in popularity to number 205. It is the real first name of designer Coco Chanel!
Lavender Brown was a pure-blood witch and one-time girlfriend of Ron Weasely. She was fascinated by Divination and a devoted follower of Professor Trelawney, the Divination teacher. As Lavender is a name for a person with a more open-minded spirit, her fascination with divinity might not be so surprising. She did, however, join Dumbledore’s Army and later died at the hand (claw?) of Fenrir the werewolf.
Lavender is the name of an English plant and pale purple color. It is not in the top 1000 names in the US and may not be as popular as Violet or Lilac, but has gained popularity with more cutting-edge baby namers. Aside from Lavender Brown of Harry Potter, Lavender also played the best friend of Matilda in the Roald Dahl series of the same name.
Hannah Abbott, a Hufflepuff, is a half-blood witch whose mother was killed by a death-eater. She’s the first new student of Harry Potter’s year to be sorted into a house. She might be a little naïve as she was easily convinced by Ernie Macmillan in book 2 that Harry Potter must be the heir of Slytherin, though she had in the past thought Harry was nice. She ultimately married fellow Dumbledore’s Army member and rebellion leader, Neville Longbottom, showing her love of bravery. It also shows how her character strengthens over the series, from being naïve and easily swayed to recognizing the true character of a person.
Hannah is a classic name meaning “grace.” It has enjoyed huge popularity in the United States, ranking number two in 2000 and still holding strong at 28th in 2015. Hannah Montana may have had something to do with its early 2000 popularity!
Colin Creevey and his camera joined Hogwart’s the year after Harry. He was a little irritating to most other students due to his propensity for constantly taking pictures. He was in complete awe of Harry Potter, appearing as a sort of groupie to Harry. His camera ultimately saved his life, however, as he peeped the basilisk through its lens instead of directly in the eye, which would have caused his death.
The name Colin is a diminutive of Nicholas, of Scots-Irish origin and means “pup.” It is currently ranked 172 in the US. There are a plethora of famous Colins, from Firth to Farrell, and don’t forget Tom Hanks son, Colin Hanks!
Ariana Dumbledore is the half-sister of Albus and Aberforth Dumbledore. She was traumatized by muggle boys at a young age, to the point where her magical abilities became uncontrollable. She was kept away from the general community and eventually caused a magical explosion that killed her mother, putting Ariana in the custody of Albus. She had a gentle nature and was very devoted to her family. She was eventually killed in a three-way magical dual between Albus, Aberforth and a Dark Wizard, Grindelwald. This event was significant in both of her brother’s lives and had a profound impact due, I feel, to the fact that it was never clear which of the three participants was responsible for her death.
Ariana, meaning “most holy” is ranked 46th in the United States right now. The Italian name seems glamorous and exotic to me and never more than when it is referring to Ariana Grande. The pop princess has risen in popularity over the past few years since her Nickolodeon show “Sam and Cat” ended.
Arabella Figg is Harry Potter’s squib (a non-magical person born to at least one wizard parent) neighbor during the time he lived with the Dursley’s. She is also an undercover member of the Order of the Phoenix and owns a lot of cats. A squib is different from a muggle in their knowledge of, and ability to see things within the wizarding world. Arabella did everything she could to help the Order, and despite having limited abilities she remained un-envious of her wizard peers.
Arabella is a Latin name meaning “yielding to prayer.” It is ranked number 194 in the United States. Both Ivanka Trump and Dr. Oz chose this elegant name for their children. It is a classy alternative to the uber-popular Isabella or Isabelle.
Nicolas Flamel, an accomplished alchemist and old friend of Dumbledore, is the only known creator of the Philosopher’s Stone (called Sorcerer’s Stone in the American version). With the Philosopher’s Stone, he created the Elixir of Life which allowed him and his wife Perenelle to live over 690 years! Nicolas was a brilliant wizard and a known opera lover, showing a cultured side of him.
Nicolas is an alternative spelling of Nicholas, Greek in origin and ranked number 202 in the US. It means “victor of the people.” Nicolas Cage uses this alternative spelling. It is both the French and Spanish version of Nicholas.
Edward Remus “Teddy” Lupin is the son of the late Remus Lupin and Nymphadora Tonks. Instead of inheriting his father’s werewolf gene, he inherited his mother’s metamorphmagus abilities. When he was born, his hair was black but changed to red almost immediately. Raised by his grandmother, he is also Harry Potter’s godson.
Teddy as a nickname for Edward is not as common as using it as a nickname for Theodore. Edward, meaning “wealthy guardian,” is ranked 158th, however Teddy is not in the top 1000 names. The most famous Teddy was Teddy Roosevelt, though his first name was actually Theodore. The more infamous Ted Kennedy’s first name is Edward, however. If you want something more unique as a nickname for Edward, Teddy is always a classy choice - and he can be Ted as he grows up!
Madame Poppy Pomfrey is the matron of Hogwarts and the school nurse. She is usually quite possessive of her patients, constantly insisting to their visitors that the patients need their rest. She’s very caring and accomplished in healing magic, often curing some ailments instantly.
Poppy is a name I love. It is a Latin flower name and isn’t ranked in the US, though it is on a roll in the UK. To me it’s a spunky name, but still pretty. Poppy Montgomery, the star of “Without a Trace” is one notable Poppy. Jamie Oliver, Anna Paquin, and Jessica Capshaw all named their daughters Poppy. If you want to honor Hogwarts’ most famous school nurse, Poppy is the name you should pick!
Emmeline Vance was a member of both the first and second Order of the Phoenix, surviving the first wizarding world. She is valiant and strong, having been entrusted to the Advanced Guard who protected Harry Potter. The name Emmeline is related to the Germanic name Amalina which is a diminutive of the word amal or “work.” Someone with this name might be a hard worker, as evidenced by Vance's work with the Order.
Emmeline is ranked 809th in the United States, only breaking into the top 1000 names in 2014. It is a relative of both Emma and Emily, two very popular names in this country. It has the potential to become very popular as an alternative to these more common names. Emmeline is the name of famous British suffragette, Emmeline Pankhurst and Christian Bale used it to name his daughter.
Alicia Spinnett was a member of the Quidditch team and a couple years ahead of Harry Potter in school. She stood up for people who were being ostracized due to something they couldn’t control, such as Hermione’s “mudblood” status. She was outspoken but kind to her younger Quidditch team members.
Alicia is a Spanish variation of the name Alice, meaning “noble.” An alternative meaning of Alicia is “honest.” It is ranked 365th in the United States in 2015, but seems to be more popular in other countries ranking in the forties in France, Spain and Portugal. Both Alicia Silverstone and Alicia Keys share the name and it is the birth name of Jodie Foster.
Zacharias Smith was in Harry’s year at school, but was intensely disliked by Ron Weasley. He was sorted into Hufflepuff despite showing qualities of selfishness and cowardice. He was openly critical of Harry Potter throughout the series. He was skeptical of Harry’s leadership abilities and scoffed when Harry attempted to teach him spells.
Zacharias is the Greek form of Zachariah. It means “the Lord has remembered.” It is a more esteemed version of the popular Zachary and still lends itself to the nickname, Zack. The name is not ranked in the United States currently but Zack is number 967. In the New Testament, Zacharias was the husband of Elizabeth and the father of John the Baptist.
Alice Longbottom and her husband Frank were well respected Aurors and the parents of Neville. They were members of the first Order of the Phoenix. They bravely fought against the Dark Forces but were attacked by Death Eaters and tortured. They remain in long-term care, insane and unable to recognize their son.
Alice, ranked 87th in 2015, is one of my favorite classic names. It seems more feminine than some of the classic names like Margaret or Mary. The beloved title character of Alice in Wonderland is probably the most famous Alice. Tina Fey chose it to name her daughter. Fun fact: Alice was Queen Victoria’s daughter. She shocked her mother by choosing to breastfeed her baby!
Tom Marvolo Riddle, otherwise known as Lord Voldemort, is a name that will go down in infamy in the wizarding world. It is not just a name associated with evil and the dark arts, it is a name associated with great power and responsibility. Tom might be an innocuous name, but paired with Marvolo, no one will mistake where your alliances lie.
Tom, a diminutive of Thomas originating from Aramaic, means “twin.” You could choose Tom as a nickname for Thomas or go with Tom on its own. Thomas is one of the most common boys' name in both the US and England over time. From Jefferson to Edison, Hanks and Cruise it is obviously a name for notable individuals. Interesting fact: Thomas came into being when Jesus had too many apostles named Judas. He then renamed one Thomas to distinguish him from Judas Iscariot. Bonus: little boys love Thomas the Tank Engine!
Lily J. Potter was Harry’s mother, former Hogwarts student and member of the first Order of the Phoenix. Her character will always be associated with love and sacrifice due to the fact that she shielded her son with her own body to protect him from Lord Voldemort’s killing curse. She died saving her son, thus imbuing him with protection from the one who took her life.
Lily is an English flower name and could be a nickname for Lilian. In 2015, Lily was ranked 25th in popularity. It is a classy name and a symbol of purity and innocence. Chris O’Donnell, Kate Beckinsale, Greg Kinear, Fred Savage and Johnny Depp named their daughters Lily. Lily is by far my favorite of the flower names!
James Potter, married to Lily was Harry Potter’s father. A prefect his last year at Hogwarts, he was a clever, if mischievous student. He was also a member of the first Order of the Phoenix and a stalwart supporter of good over evil. James is a perfect name for someone who likes to enjoy life, remains firm in their beliefs, is persistent, and steps up to the plate when things get tough.
James, meaning “supplanter or one who follows” is an English variation of the Hebrew name, Jacob. In 2015 it was ranked #7 in the United States. The name James is biblical (two Apostles in the New Testament), royal (kings of both England and Scotland) and presidential (six US presidents). James is a classic name that has stood strong over centuries. It has even gained popularity in the US as a girl’s name!
Ronald Weasley, best friend of Harry and Hermione and somewhat bewildered student grows exponentially over the course of the Harry Potter series. He never seems to know just what he’s supposed to be doing and things go wrong for him more often than not. Through it all, however, his loyalty to his friends, dedication to the cause and gained maturity over the years allowed him to leave Hogwarts virtually unscathed (at least physically).
Ron is a diminutive of Ronald meaning “ruler’s counselor” and is Norse in origin. The Vikings brought the name to England and Scotland. It is ranked 433rd in the United States. Ronald enjoyed great popularity in the 1930’s and 40’s, however it is still in the top 500 names today. The most notable of recent years would have to be President Ronald Regan. Don’t write Ronald off as a choice because you think it’s old fashioned! Somebody’s keeping it ranked in the US.
Hermione Granger is a brilliant witch, though something of a know-it-all. It’s often her knowledge and clear-headedness that get her and Harry and Ron out of countless hairy situations. She’s both book smart and practical, while remaining steadfastly loyal to those she loves.
Hermione is a Greek name meaning “messenger, earthly.” If you’re like me and pronounced it Her-mee-own until the movie came out, don’t worry, you’re not alone! It is not ranked in the United States currently, but chances are most people have heard the name due to Hermione Granger and the popularity of the Harry Potter franchise. In Greek myth, Hermione is also the daughter of Spartan King Melanus and his wife Helen. There is a possibility that Hermione could become more popular as today’s children grow up and have children of their own!
What can be said about the Boy Who Lived? Harry Potter was a baby who fulfilled a prophecy, caused the first and second downfall of the Dark Lord, and changed the wizarding world forever. He’s loyal to his friends, would lay down his life for them. He was born with incredible talent and over the course of the series he learns how to tap into that talent, distill it into something usable in his quest to vanquish Lord Voldemort.
Harry, a diminutive of Henry, means “estate ruler.” It is currently ranked 781 in the United States. Harry was the nickname for all eight King Henrys. It used to be considered old fashioned until Princess Diana called her second-born Harry. Then the Harry Potter franchise took off, bringing the name to the forefront for young boys. Harry Styles from One Direction is one of the more famous Harrys. Additionally, David Letterman, Simon Baker and Billy Bob Thorton all chose Harry for their sons’ names. This name is the number one choice for Potterheads who want to use their progeny to honor their favorite series!
Sources: Harry Potter Wiki, Name Berry, Social Security Administration