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An Overview of the "Harry Potter" Books and Universe

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The lightning bolt is one recognizable symbol for Harry Potter because of the lightning bolt-shaped scar on his forehead.

The lightning bolt is one recognizable symbol for Harry Potter because of the lightning bolt-shaped scar on his forehead.

Welcome to the World of Harry Potter

The wizarding world of J.K.Rowling's Harry Potter books is full of terminology, creatures, and objects entirely unique to this universe. This whole new world for readers to explore, along with relatable characters and a great sense of humor (for example, the Hogwarts motto is Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus, meaning "Never Tickle a Sleeping Dragon"), makes it a wonderful read for both children and adults. The series has captivated entire generations with years of reading and movie-watching and continues to be adored by fans old and new.

In the first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (also known as Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone), readers are introduced to the infamous Harry Potter. Raised by muggles after the death of his parents, Harry is unaware of his wizard background until his eleventh birthday, when he receives a mysterious letter inviting him to attend the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. His experiences enable him to step into an amazing world full of magic, learn more about his past, and have his second encounter with Lord Voldemort (the first being when he was a baby) as he seeks the Sorcerer's Stone.

The second book, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, takes place in Harry's second year at Hogwarts. A new mystery arises as students are turned into stone for reasons no one understands, although many rumors float through Hogwarts. Could it be Harry Potter himself, with his new-found ability to speak Parseltongue? Or could it be Malfoy, his nemesis that has only recently provided Harry with his first taste of anti-Muggle racism in the wizarding world?

The next book in the series is Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Sirius Black has escaped from Azkaban, Hermione keeps disappearing, death omens seem to be everywhere, and Dementors have come to guard Hogwarts. All of these combined have Harry fearing for his life, even with his new Firebolt, Marauder's Map, and his loyal friends by his side because, on top of everything he has to worry about, he realizes there is a traitor hidden at Hogwarts.

The fourth book is Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. For the first time in a century, the deadly Triwizard Tournament has come to Hogwarts, along with two rivals from two other magic schools in other countries. Everything goes according to plan, with Cedric Diggory chosen as Hogwarts' champion until the shocking discovery that someone cheated the system and Harry Potter is named as yet another champion, which means someone wants him dead.

Book five, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, introduces the reader to a secret society that works to fight against the Dark Lord's followers and protect targets like Harry Potter. This society is, of course, the Order of the Phoenix. Discredited by the Daily Prophet, Harry must deal with a new-found hatred from classmates while haunted by dreams of a mysterious door at the end of a hallway. He founds Dumbledore's Army and helps train students to defend themselves against the Dark Arts.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is the next book. Book six explores the story of Tom Riddle as Harry and Dumbledore work together to uncover Voldemort's past. Little do they realize the consequences of their searches as Harry's future, as well as that of Hogwarts, is suddenly put at risk.

The final book in the series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, brings readers to the final moment that all of the books have been leading up to: the battle between Voldemort and Harry Potter. After suffering great loss and heartache, is Harry up to the challenge with a newly revived Dark Lord and his army of Death Eaters?

The Books

  1. Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone or Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Published June 30, 1997, in the UK and September 1, 1998, in the US)
  2. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Published July 2, 1998, in the UK and June 2, 1999, in the US)
  3. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Published July 8, 1999, in the UK and September 8, 1999, in the US)
  4. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Published July 8, 2000, in the UK and the US)
  5. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Published June 21, 2003, in the UK and the US)
  6. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Published July 16, 2005, in the UK and the US)
  7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Published July 21, 2007, in the UK and the US)



Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is made up of four houses: Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff, and Ravenclaw.

  • Founded by Godric Gryffindor, the Gryffindor house values bravery, daring, and chivalry, and its symbol is the lion in scarlet and gold.
  • Slytherin was founded by Salazar Slytherin and values cunning, resourcefulness, and ambition. Their symbol is a snake, and their colors are emerald green and silver.
  • House Ravenclaw values intelligence, knowledge, and wit. Founded by Rowena Ravenclaw, their symbol is the eagle and its colors are blue and bronze.
  • Hufflepuff house was founded by Helga Hufflepuff. This house values hard work, patience, loyalty, and fair play. Their symbol is a badger and its colors are yellow and black.
Hogwarts is a major part of the "Harry Potter" universe and is made up of four houses.

Hogwarts is a major part of the "Harry Potter" universe and is made up of four houses.


If you haven't read the books, words like "squib" and "muggle" might just sound like nonsense. One important aspect of the Harry Potter universe is the unique terminology J.K. Rowling has invented for the wizarding world of her novels. Here are just a few of the many terms used in the world of Harry Potter.

  1. Auror: Dark wizard catcher
  2. Azkaban: Wizard prison
  3. Beater: A Quidditch player with the ability to knock bludgers at the opposition
  4. Bludgers: Black balls in the game of Quidditch that try to knock players off their brooms
  5. Dark Mark: The dark mark refers to the skull with a serpent in its mouth, the symbol of the Death Eaters. It is used by Voldemort to summon his followers.
  6. Death Eaters: Followers of Voldemort
  7. Dumbledore's Army: Also known simply as the D.A., it is a group taught Defense Against the Dark Arts by Harry Potter during his fifth year
  8. Galleon: Gold wizarding money
  9. Golden Snitch: Small golden ball with wings that must be caught by the Seeker to win a match of Quidditch
  10. Knut: Bronze wizarding money
  11. Mud-Blood: Derogatory term for those born from muggle parents
  12. Muggle: A non-magical person
  13. Parselmouth: Wizard that can talk to snakes
  14. Parseltongue: Language spoken by parselmouths
  15. Quaffle: Red ball used to score in Quidditch
  16. Quidditch: International wizard sport
  17. Squib: Someone from a wizarding family with no magical powers
  18. Trueblood: Someone born from parents who both have magic powers

Mythical Creatures

In addition to its own terminology, the Harry Potter universe is full of mythical creatures, as well as creatures unique to J.K. Rowling's books. Here is a list of just 25 of the mythical creatures that appear in the Harry Potter books.

  1. Animagi: Wizards who can transform into animals at will
  2. Basilisk: A snake-like creature with the ability to turn you to stone if you look it in the eye
  3. Boggart: Shape shifter that takes the form of your worst fears
  4. Bowtruckles: Small creatures that live in trees and supply wood for wands
  5. Centaurs: Half-man and half-horse that live in the Forbidden Forest
  6. Cornish Pixies: Fairies that love to cause trouble
  7. Dementor: The guards of Azkaban that feed on happiness; their kiss sucks away a person's soul, leaving them empty
  8. Dragon: A reptilian creature that can fly and breathe fire
  9. Ghoul: Ghostly creatures that live in attics
  10. Giants: Huge human-like creatures known for violence
  11. Gnome: Small creatures with leathery skin, large heads, horny feet, and razor-sharp teeth that live in gardens
  12. Goblins: Creatures with swarthy faces, pointed beards, and long hands that make up the entire staff of Gringotts Bank
  13. Grim: A giant black dog that is a death omen
  14. Grindylow: Water demon
  15. Hinkypunk: Creatures that live in swamps and bogs and use lamps at night to lure travelers
  16. Hippogriff: Magical creature with the front legs, wings, and head of an eagle and body, hind legs, and tail of a horse
  17. House-elf: A small creature that serves wizards in the household; they can be set free when given an article of clothing by their master
  18. Inferius: A dead body bewitched to do a Dark wizard's bidding
  19. Kappa: Monkey-like creature that lives underwater and strangles intruders
  20. Leprechaun: Irish elf or pixie
  21. Metamorphmagu: Person who can change their appearance at will
  22. Niffler: Black, fluffy creatures that can find buried treasure
  23. Phoenix: Dumbledore's phoenix, Fawkes, is the only one present in the books. A phoenix is a mythical bird that burns itself and is reborn in its ashes
  24. Thestrals: Fleshless, winged horses that can only be seen by those who have witnessed a death
  25. Veela: Beautiful women that can hypnotize men but also grow wings and scaly wings when angry

Potions and Magical Objects

  1. Amortenti: A powerful love potion
  2. Bezoar: A stone from a goat's stomach that counteracts many poisons
  3. Deflating Draught: A potion used to bring swelled-up body parts back to their normal size
  4. Draught of the Living Death: Super strong sleeping potion
  5. Elixir of Life: Made with the Sorcerer's Stone, this potion makes its drinker immortal
  6. Felix Felicis: A potion that gives the drinker good luck
  7. Floo Powder: Used by wizards to travel via fireplaces by throwing it into the flames and naming the desired destination
  8. Horcrux: Object in which a person conceals a part of their soul
  9. Veritaserum: Truth potion
Hermione Granger (played by Emma Watson) never fails to have a spell up her sleeve.

Hermione Granger (played by Emma Watson) never fails to have a spell up her sleeve.

Spells and Potions

In addition to its own terminology and mythological creatures, the HP universe is full of spells and potions that are just as essential to the story. While this list is extensive, it by no means covers everything Rowling invented for her seven books. You will find a list of potions below.

  1. Accio: A summoning charm for objects
  2. Aguamenti: Spell to create water
  3. Alohomora: Spell to unlock doors
  4. Aparecium: Spell that makes ink invisible
  5. Apparate: The ability to instantly travel to another location
  6. Crucio: One of the three Unforgivable Curses inflicts torture upon its victim and is called the Cruciatus Curse
  7. Deletrius: Spell to disintegrate something
  8. Densaugeo: Spell to grow teeth
  9. Diffindo: Spell to split something
  10. Disapparate: The ability to disappear at will
  11. Dissendium: Spell that opens a secret passage to Hogsmeade
  12. Disillusionment Charm: Enables you to become invisible by making you blend in with your surroundings
  13. Enervate: A reviving spell
  14. Engorgio: Swelling charm
  15. Evanesco: Incantation to make something disappear
  16. Expecto Patronum: Spell to help fight off dementors
  17. Expelliarmus: Disarming spell
  18. Ferula: A spell that conjures a sling for a broken limb
  19. Fidelius Charm: Conceals a secret with a Secret-Keeper that no one will know unless the Secret-Keeper divulges it
  20. Four-Point Spell: Makes your wand act like a compass
  21. Freezing Charm: Freezes an object
  22. Furnunculus: Curse that causes boils
  23. Imedimenta: The Impediment Jinx that impedes or slows down an attacker
  24. Imperio: The Imperius Curse that is one of the three Unforgivable Curses; it enables the user to control another person completely
  25. Incarcerous: Spell that causes ropes to appear and wrap around an object
  26. Incendio: Spell that produces fire
  27. Intruder Charm: Spell used to detect an intruder
  28. Jelly-Legs Jinx: Makes someone's legs wobbly
  29. Levicorpus: A spell that hangs someone upside down in the air by their ankle
  30. Liberacorpus: Counters levicorpus spell
  31. Lumos: Spell to light wand
  32. Mobilarbus: Spell to move objects
  33. Mobilicorpus: Spell to move someone
  34. Morsmordre: Spell that conjures the Dark Mark
  35. Muffliato: Spell that causes buzzing in another's ear
  36. Nox: Spell that extinguishes light from a wand
  37. Obliviate: Spell that makes someone forget something
  38. Oppugno: Spell that makes magical birds attack
  39. Petrificus Totalus: Spell binding arms and legs together
  40. Quietus: Reverses Sonoros charm
  41. Reducio: Shrinking charm
  42. Reducto: Reductor curse that blasts an object apart
  43. Relashio: Makes someone let go of something
  44. Reparo: Repairing spell
  45. Rictusempra: Tickling spell
  46. Riddickulus: Makes boggart take on a new appearance
  47. Scourgify: Vanishing spell
  48. Sectumsempra: Spell that slashes the victim like a sword
  49. Silencio: Silencing Charm
  50. Stupify: Stunning spell
  51. Tarantallegra: Dancing spell
  52. Tergeo: Spell to siphon liquid

© 2013 Lisa


John on May 05, 2020:

Where can I watch the movies?

Sue McGreal from Warwickshire on July 29, 2013:

I've been watching the reruns of the movies on TV and I'd forgotten how good they were! One of my aims this summer is to reread the series and immerse myself again in this other world created so skilfully by J.K. Rowling. If I manage to do it, I think your article would be the perfect companion. It's so informative and interesting, written in a very accessible way. So when the metamorphmagu is casting a relashio spell, I'll at least know who they are!

rose-the planner from Toronto, Ontario-Canada on July 23, 2013:

Wow.........this is so amazing! I am a Harry Potter Fan and I totally love the list of categories and terms that you have provided. When J.K. Rowling released her first books I bought the collector set because I knew her Harry Potter series was going to be a huge hit. This was great! Thanks for sharing. (Voted Up) -Rose