Proper Noun Disorder – a condition explained (a Harry Potter character name exploration)

JK Rowling is generally accepted to be the first diagnosed case of Proper Noun Disorder.

Proper Noun Disorder is a mental condition found in writers of fiction.  This occurs when the patient’s inhabitation of their own fictional world results in naming their characters with easily understood, even ridiculous names in an attempt to subconsciously provide the reader with clues about the character’s personality.  Unfortunately, this simplistic approach leads to character names that not only inform on the character but also make clear that not only does the author have the disorder, but it also serves as a clear indication that the writer thinks the reader is an idiot.

The following character names were examined during Ms. Rowling’s diagnosis:

spoiler alert

Sirius Black – after the murder of his friends, his mood is seriously black, as is his life due to his conviction for said murders.  Get it? Get it?!? She hopes you get it.

Lavender Brown – I think this might be a colorful character!  Right?  Right!

Fenrir Greyback – kinda like “gray wolf.”

Remus Lupin – speaking of the gray wolf, the latin name for a gray wolf is “Canis lupus lupus.”  Do you see what she did there?  You see it.

Bellatrix Lestrange – During a session with a therapist, Ms. Rowling said that in her earlier drafts of Goblet of Fire, Sirius Black referred to his sister as, “Captain I’m a Bad Guy,” but revised her name in a later draft.

Vincent Crabbe – he’s a little crabby, I feel.

Penelope Clearwater – nothing to see here.  She’s just as memorable as the water her name refers to do.

Gregory Goyle – kinda looks like gargoyle if you read it too fast. I think he might be a bad guy.

Godric Gryffindor – the most powerful founder of Hogwarts has the word “God” in his name. I am surprised by this.

Viktor Krum – his head is full of sawdust. Sawdust is small. Like a crum. Hmmm.

Gilderoy Lockhart – the handsome guy’s name is Lockhart!

Draco Malfoy – “Draco” sure does seem like it’s supposed to make you think “dragon.” And, spoiler alert… he’s a bad guy!

Alastor (Mad-Eye) Moody – the guy everybody calls “Mad-Eye” has the last name “Moody.” As if the nickname wasn’t enough.

Pansy Parkinson is a school prefect and has “pansy” in her name. You think she’s a bad guy? Alliteration!

Peter Pettigrew – Bet-he-grew bigger at some point during the series, right?

Prof Quirinus Quirrell – pretty sure that last name was supposed to be “querulous.” (Meaning someone characterized by complaining; fretfulness.) Kinda looks like she combined “querulous” and “squirrel.” Because he’s squirrely. Sigh. She sure does love alliteration.

Tom Marvolo Riddle – Her doctor’s reaction:


Salazar Slytherin – and then again.


Pius Thicknesse – a guy named “Thicknesse” is under mind control. A bit on the nose, I feel!

Dolores Jane Umbridge – ugh. just read the definition.

Romilda Vane – No, no, Ms. Rowling… it’s “vain,” not “vane.” Oh! Oh. I see what you did there.

But seriously, stop it.

About Jamie Insalaco

Jamie Insalaco is the author of, and editor in chief of

Posted on December 6, 2016, in book reviews, Dictionary, movie review and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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