There was a lot more to magic, as Harry quickly found out, than waving your wand and saying a few funny words.


Harry Potter


The fictional game of Quidditch shares many characteristics with the real sport horseball. Known as Pato, this is the Argentinian National Game. The goals are almost identical (a hoop on the end of a pole), although Quidditch has three goals at each end whereas Pato only has one.

According to Rowling, in the original form of Quidditch the scoring ball (Quaffle) had straps to allow one-handed throwing and catching (like in Horseball), though these were replaced in 1875 with Gripping Charms. Much like the live duck in Pato, in an earlier form of Quidditch, the Golden Snitch – the winged ball, that if caught can win the game – was actually a small bird called a Snidget which, on being caught, was killed. The Golden Snitch emerged as a replacement when the Wizards’ Council decreed the Snidget a protected species in the 14th Century. The key difference, though, is that Quidditch uses broomsticks rather than horses.

Since the success of the Harry Potter films, various versions of Muggle Quidditch have cropped up to allow fans to share in the magic of Quidditch, except without the magic.

In the US over 200 college teams form the Intercollegiate Quidditch Association. The sport sees participants running around a field holding brooms between their legs trying to score goals while avoiding dodgeballs (Bludgers) thrown from the sidelines. The Snitch is played by a student running around the field dressed in yellow with a sock dangling from his pants. In order to win, the sock must be caught. Muggle Quidditch was pioneered at Middlebury College which now reports that it has received an increase in prospective students citing Quidditch as a draw.

In 2009 Ferndale comprehensive school in South Wales introduced an adapted form of Muggle Quidditch in response to a Welsh Assembly initiative to get children active with new sports. 


Wit beyond measure is man’s greatest treasure.

Hagrid and the Muggles

In the Harry Potter universe, a ‘muggle’ is a human with no magical powers. Originally it was slang for marijuana, or someone who smokes it and was in common use in late 1920s New Orleans.

The new meaning of muggle was entered into the Oxford English Dictionary in 2002. The definition says: ‘in the fiction of J. K. Rowling: a person who possesses no magical powers. Hence in allusive and extended uses: a person who lacks a particular skill or skills, or who is regarded as inferior in some way.’

Muggle also means ‘a tail resembling that of a fish’ and has been used to mean a young woman or sweetheart.

Hagrid's name originally comes from the word ‘hagridden’, which means 'tormented by nightmares'. 'Hagridden' is also an old term for sleep paralysis, the sensation of being held immobile in bed, often by a heavy weight. This horrible sensation is often coupled with the feeling that there is someone else is in the room and there is nothing you can do about it. J. K. Rowling said: ‘Hagrid is a big drinker. He has a lot of bad nights.’


I hope you’re pleased with yourselves. We could all have been killed - or worse, expelled.

Dumbledore and Bumblebees

In Harry Potter, Dumbledore is the headmaster of Hogwarts, but a ‘dumbledore’ is also an 18th-century word for a bumblebee. Dumble was part of a set of rhyming words from English used centuries ago, the others being bumble (from a root word meaning to drone or buzz) which is obviously still in use, and ‘humble’ (because they hum). ‘Humblebee’ and ‘dumblebee’ are obsolete, but all three names were used for bumblebees at one time. The ‘dore’ of Dumbledore is the Old English word for any insect that flies with a humming noise. Dummel was an old world for someone stupid and slow, so Dumbledore has also appeared in dialect as the name for a blundering person – e.g. in Under the Greenwood Tree by Thomas Hardy.

King’s Cross station have made a mock platform 9 ¾. There’s even a luggage trolley disappearing into the wall.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows sold 2.6 million copies on its first day on sale.

J. K. Rowling’s surname is pronounced ‘rowling’ as in ‘bowling’.

Platform 9 ¾

Platform 9 ¾ at King's Cross is probably most famous as the fictional platform that trains to Hogwarts depart from. The movie scenes were actually filmed between platforms 4 and 5, as 9 and 10 aren't adjacent, but have tracks in between.

The child actors in the Harry Potter films hid so many sweets in their costume’s pockets that the wardrobe department had to sew them up.

J. K. Rowling’s parents met at King’s Cross station.

The first fan letter J. K. Rowling ever received began: ‘Dear Sir…’

The names for the houses at Hogwarts were originally written down on a flight sick bag.