What are some of the meanings behind the Weasley family’s many monikers? We looked into the etymology of their names.

Ron vomits slugs at the Quidditch pitch.
© JKR/Pottermore Ltd. ™ Warner Bros.

Ron Weasley

If we were going to go for a literal translation, then Ronald Bilius Weasley in full means ‘having the god’s power’, ‘nausea’ and ‘weaselly’. Some of those more or less align with the Ron we know, although perhaps don’t take them too literally, unless Ron has been vomiting slugs again.

Let’s look at ‘Ronald’ first: quite a common male name that has its roots in Old Norse language, from the name ‘Rognvald’. Rognvald, or Ragnvald, was the name of many old kings – giving a whole new meaning to Malfoy’s ‘Weasley is Our King’ chant.

‘Bilius’ has its origins in ‘bilious’, with bile making up two of the four humours – the bodily fluids that Ancient Greeks thought controlled a person’s health and temperament. Bile was said to indicate anger and melancholy, and Ron was definitely guilty of having a temper, especially when he got a bit jealous of Harry or his siblings.

It doesn’t take a great stretch of the imagination to figure out what ‘Weasley’ means. Weasels traditionally tend to be pretty sly and deceitful, but we’d wager this wasn’t supposed to suggest the Weasley family are in any way devious, but rather that the weasel’s bad reputation is undeserved. It’s also no coincidence, of course, that weasels live in a burrow… as do the Weasleys.

Ginny Weasley

If you know your Arthurian legends then you might recognise Ginny’s full name, Ginevra, as the Italian form of Guinevere. Guinevere was, of course, King Arthur’s wife, and her name means ‘fair one’. The name we best know Ginevra by – Ginny – translates as ‘virginal’, with the link here being that both names suggest purity and innocence.

Ginny definitely started off innocent and sweet due to her young age – especially when she was manipulated by Tom Riddle’s diary – but grew infinitely more mature, becoming a match for her brothers and a bit more like her strong-willed queenly namesake.

Illustration of Ginny Weasley from the Dumbledore's Army infographic
Ginny Weasley. © JKR/Pottermore Ltd.™ Warner Bros.

Molly Weasley

As far as we know, Mrs Weasley didn’t have a middle name, so we just have her forename to go with, and ‘Molly’ is pretty straightforward in that it is a Hebrew name meaning ‘bitter’. Mrs Weasley definitely wasn’t a bitter person, but she certainly was a very sharp woman, with a shrewd intellect and the ability to be stern when she needed to be.

Another interpretation of Molly’s name could be that it is a shortened form of ‘mollycoddle’, which makes a lot of sense because, while Mrs Weasley was a firm matriarch, she was also a doting mother and maybe even a little overprotective. This might also be where Arthur’s not-so-private pet name, Mollywobbles, originated.

Arthur Weasley

Much like his wife, Mr Weasley didn’t seem to possess a middle name, so we can only unpick his first name for any kind of hidden meaning. ‘Arthur’ is surprisingly complex but it has Celtic roots, made up of the term ‘artos’ meaning ‘bear’ and ‘rigos’ meaning ‘king’. So… king of the bears? The Weasley clan being like a family of bears makes a lot of sense, as they were very protective and there were a lot of them. Alright, maybe we’re clutching at straws.

Harry and Arthur use the guest entrance to the Ministry.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Bill Weasley

There were very few instances of Bill being referred to by his full name – William Arthur Weasley – save for his and Fleur’s wedding. William, like Arthur, is a name that doesn’t have one explicit meaning. It is comprised of the Germanic terms ‘wil’ and ‘helm’, meaning ‘desire’ and ‘protection’.

Bill’s school career as Prefect and Head Boy highlight his more gallant side and how he was keen on being in authority roles, while his job as a curse-breaker at Gringotts showed that, as Ginny put it, ‘He likes a bit of adventure, a bit of glamour…’ Bill was definitely someone full of desire – particularly a desire to protect.

Percy Weasley

Percy Ignatius Weasley was probably the most conceited of the Weasleys, often being a humourless sourpuss. There isn’t a specific meaning behind the name Percy, but what we do know is that it’s a name commonly used in past and present by English nobility. Percy’s stuffiness and general haughty manner definitely fits with it, and it’s altogether more aristocratic than his siblings or parents’ names.

There’s a bit more to Percy’s middle name, Ignatius, which is a Late Roman word for ‘fire’. Initially there didn’t seem to be a lot about Percy that seemed particularly fiery, but he was very opinionated, often expressing his loaded views about things that didn’t really concern him. Percy’s ambition was overall pretty fiery, too, as he had an unquenchable thirst for power and to excel in his career.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Charlie Weasley

He may not have dominated the pages of the books but Charlie Weasley was still an important member of the family. We don’t know much about him aside from his love for animals, but his name, Charles (we don’t know of a middle name), derives from the German name Karl, meaning ‘man’, and the word ‘hari’ meaning ‘army’ or ‘warrior’.

Charlie might not have seemed warrior-like at first glance, but who says warriors have to be violent? He went on to study dragons in Romania and became a fierce defender of them, taking Norbert under his wing. Charlie Weasley: definitely our favourite kind of fighter.

Fred and George Weasley

The cheekiest Weasley boys were two characters with doubly interesting names – though neither have middle names. George is derived from the Greek ‘farmer, earth worker’. While he was most definitely not a farmer, he was a born inventor and he and his brother worked very hard to build Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes from the ground up.

Similarly, Fred’s name means ‘peaceful ruler’, which, as he was the more outgoing of the Weasley twins, definitely has to be ironic. Fred’s endless tricks, pranks and rejection of authority were testament to the fact that he was anything but ‘peaceful’.

© JKR/Pottermore Ltd. ™ Warner Bros.