41 names from Harry Potter that are weird in Dutch

If you read my last blogpost, you’ll have found a ton of ways to get to grips with the Dutch language. One thing that I seemed to miss out though (weirdly enough given my love of reading), was how much you should read in your target language. It’s a biggie.

When I began to get a little more confident with my Dutch I decided to try to read a novel (FYI I was punching well above my weight). My bright idea was to get a hold of a novel that I already knew. My thought process: I already know the story, so it should be easy to translate right? (um, kinda).

I picked everyone’s favourite, Harry Potter, in an attempt to relive my youth. While it half worked, there was something pretty odd about the Dutch translation of it that almost ruined the magic of Harry P for me:

They changed the characters names.

What?! I hear you cry? Yeah, a lot of characters in the Harry Potter universe apparently went and changed their name by deed poll. Are the names better? Wait and see, and let me know what you think. I’ve compiled a list of teachers, ghosts, students, and pretty main characters who all had their names battered by the Dutch language.

Here goes. Goodbye childhood.

The weird renaming of Dutch Harry Potter characters

Let me start by saying that Harry Potter remained Harry Potter thank God. Could you imagine? Hagrid remained Hagrid. And Dobby remained Dobby/ I mean it’s something. I’m not quite sure they’d have ever gotten away with calling Harry… Henk or something. Doesn’t quite have the same ring to it does it.

One other name that remained the same: Hedwig. And you should know that Hedwig is a really popular girl’s name in the Netherlands. I know a Hedwig, and whilst the name always conjures up cute owls in my mind, you’ve got to know that the name has been used here in NL way before it ever appeared in Harry Potter. In fact, it’s a Germanic name that’s been used since the 9th Century.

Without further ado:

Main characters

  • Hermelien Griffel Hermione Granger
  • Ron Wemel Ron Weasley

The Durselys

  • Vernon DuffelingVernon Dursely
  • Petunia DuffelingPetunia Dursely
  • Dirk DuffelingDudley Dursely


  • Albus Perkamentus Albus Dumbledore
  • Minerva Anderling Minerva McGonnagall
  • Severus Sneep Severus Snape
  • Argus Vilder Argus Filch
  • Sybilla Zwandrift Sybil Trelawney
  • Gladianus Smalhart Gilderoy Lockheart
  • Alastor Dolleman – Alistair Moody
  • Professor Krinkel – Professor Quirrel
  • Professor Stronk – Professor Sprout


  • Draco MalfidusDraco Malfoy
  • Vincent Korzel Vincent Crabbe
  • Karel Kwast Gregory Goyle
  • Daan Thomas Dean Thomas
  • MARCEL?! LUBBERMANS!? – Neville! Longbottom!?
  • Loena Leeflang Luna Lovegood
  • Oliver PlankOliver Wood
  • Simon Filister – Seamus Finnigan
  • Carlo Kannewasser – Cedric Diggory


  • KnikkebeenCrookshanks (knikke means crack, and been is a leg)
  • Muil – Fang
  • Pluisje – Fluffy the three headed dog (Pluisje is a literal translation of Fluffy)
  • Schurfie – Scabbers

Ghosts and ghouls

  • Jammerende Jenny Moaning Myrtle (OK I like this one because of the way the word Jammerende rolls off the tongue).
  • Foppe de KlopgeistPeeves the Poltergeist (OK actually I love this one too because of Foppe and klop).
  • Haast Onthoofde HenkNearly Headless Nick
  • De Dikke Dame – The Fat Lady (a literal translation)

Hogwarts and its houses

  • Zweinsteins Hogerschool voor Hekserij en Hocus PocusHogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (whilst a mouthful for sure, I do like the fact that the words hocus pocus are in there).
  • Zweinsveld Hogsmeade
  • Goderic GriffoendorGodric Gryffindor
  • Helga HuffelpufHelga Hufflepuff
  • Rowena RavenKlauwRowena Ravenclaw
  • Zalazar ZwadderichSalazar Slytherin

He who must not be named

  • Heer Volemort – Voldemort
  • Hij-Die-Niet-Genoemd-Mag-WordenHe who must not be named
  • Jeweetwel – You Know Who
  • De Heer van het Duister – The Dark Lord

Whilst there are clearly a few names that are pretty similar in both Dutch and English, some leave a lot to the imagination and are completely different to the English counterparts. I like to think of this as a direct metaphor for the entire Dutch language versus the English language: whilst some words are eerily similar, and pretty easy to pick up, others are so far removed from each other they’re difficult to remember.

All I know is, I didn’t finish Harry Potter en de steen de wijzen because I got so jumbled up, I went into flap mode and promptly moved onto something else. Written in English. I’m willing to give it another go though now, I guess. With my newer, stronger Dutch skills, it could be an easier ride.

Why did they change the names though?

Since going through the motions of learning Dutch, I’ve discovered that the names do of course make sense.

In Dutch, the Harry Potter universe, whilst sacredly British to us British folk, needs to be adapted to make sure its audience have a clue at what’s going on. Especially younger kids.

While strange to an English speaking idiot like myself, who clearly didn’t connect the dots because she was freaking out about the slaughtering of Harry Potter so much, names such as Dirk and Henk are incredibly popular here in the Netherlands – way more popular than Dudley or Nick, that’s for sure.

And, when it comes to the ghosts, a klopgeist (as in Foppe de Klopgeist/Peeves the Poltergeist) is simply the Dutch translation of poltergeist. Very simple in hindsight. Jammerende Jenny is alliterative just like Moaning Myrtle is, and it means the same thing. But my God to a basic level Dutch speaker did all these new found names make my head spin.

So all is not lost, and maybe one day I’ll pick up a Dutch Harry Potter novel and read it in its entirety. For now, I’ll stick with more basic books that feed my understanding a little easier…

What do you make of the Harry Potter universe’s new found monikers: cool or just plain weird? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

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  • Nikki says:

    I have never read the Harry Potter novels, nor seen the films! Shock horror, I know. But I couldn’t imagine the names changing in some of my beloved books. Must have been an odd one to get your head around. I have also heard that a lot of Dutch people prefer to read in English, as we have / use way more descriptive words! Which makes the magic even better…

    • Simone says:

      I can kind of understand why you’ve not read them, because I know you’re not the biggest reader around, but I cannot believe that you’ve not seen ANY of the HP films??? Not even to introduce them to Jess?? Yeah for some reason, with the names being changed, they look different in my head?
      Yes I’ve heard the same thing, I guess it depends how old you are when you start HP for a Dutchie? Maybe for kids it’s easier to learn them in Dutch if you don’t know much English.

  • Orlagh says:

    Omg some of them are 😳 but others sound kinda cool! I can’t stop saying Sneeeeeep haha

    • Simone says:

      I like the sound of quite a few of them! About to ruin the magic of Sneep though: double e in Dutch makes an ‘ay’ sound, so Sneep is still technically Snape. I didn’t realise that as much when I was first learning the language though, and Sneep made me giggle.

  • Zarina says:

    Ha ha, great list! A few of them do make great sense to me, being Dutch of course, and are quite clever. However, a few translations are complete bonkers ha ha! Are you familiar with the Suske and Wiske comic books? The character names (and story titles) are absolutely brilliant! Although they might be a bit difficult for a non-native but it’s a good next level challenge for you 😉
    I haven’t checked all names in this list, but spotted a few typos… It’s Hermelien (with an ‘e’ instead of ‘a’) and Minerva Anderling (so with the ‘r’ before ‘ling’ which refers to her shapeshifting ability (anders)). Sorry for pointing this out. I hate it when people do it to me! But figured you wanted to know… 🙂

    • Simone says:

      No, thank you for the spelling corrections! I’m always making slight mistakes in Dutch and it annoys me so much because in English I’m very strict about spelling. I probably should’ve worn my glasses eh ;-), I’m going to change them now. Yeah now I understand it all a little more, but my Dutch was so basic when I first picked up HP it was a silly thing to do. I love that Oliver Wood is called Oliver Plank. It makes me giggle hahaha.
      Noo, I’m not familiar with Suske and Wiske – I need to look them up!

  • Dalia says:

    My favorite is Severus Sneep LOL!!

    • Simone says:

      Hahaha yeah same, although I’m sorry to ruin the magic but double e in Dutch is just an ay sound, so Sneep is just Snape 🙁 I wish it was Sneeeeeeeeeeeeep.

  • Senja says:

    They did similar translations of the names in the Finnish version, though only the ones where it was absolutely necessary for understanding so the Dursleys and Weasleys amongst others (and Voldemort lol) got to keep their English names but Hogwarta and Moaning Myrtle for example got translated. But all in all the translations into Finnish were considered extremely high quality, the translator received actual literary and linguistic prizes for them. Makes kinda sense as the translators had to go through similar language contortions as Rowling when she was coming up with the names in English.

    • Simone says:

      Oh that’s so interesting to learn. Did you first read it in Finnish or English? Is the English version also popular in Finland?