Harry Potter's magical glossary

Friday, June 4, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 12:43 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008

Here is a list of important people, creatures and places in the magical world of Harry Potter for all the muggles, or ordinary humans with no magical powers.

Animagus: This is the term for witches or wizards who can change their form into animals at will. The Ministry of Magic keeps close tabs on those who possess this rare talent and have registered only seven animagi in England in the 20th century.

Azkaban: This prison on a tiny island out at sea houses magical criminals. Guarded by dementors, most of the inmates go mad within a few weeks.

Boggart: This creature has developed shape-shifting defensive system. If threatened, it takes the appearance of whatever it thinks will most frighten a person. Like the many of the fears it personifies, it is typically stopped by laughter.

Dementors: These black cloaked, gray-skinned specters act as the cold, unfeeling guards of Azkaban prison. Their mere presence sucks away good feelings or happy memories, and they execute people by swallowing their souls.

Firebolt: This state-of-the-art racing broom used in quidditch can accelerate up to 150 mph in 10 seconds. Harry receives one as a Christmas present after he loses his old Nimbus 2000 to the Whomping Willow, a living tree with a bad attitude.

Hippogriff: According to Harry's textbook, "Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them" by Newt Scamander, this animal has the head of a giant eagle and the body of a horse. Harry's friend Hagrid has a herd of them, including a special one named Buckbeak.

Hogsmeade: This is the only village in Britain populated solely by wizards. It can be visited by third-year students and higher who have a permission slip signed by a guardian -- or, in Harry's case, access to an invisibility cloak and a marauder's map of secret passages.

Hogwarts: This is Harry's boarding school for future witches and wizards. Over a seven-year curriculum, students receive instruction in the care of magical creatures, charms, defense against the dark arts, divination, history of magic, potions and transfiguration.

Knight Bus: This triple-decker, violently purple bus provides emergency transport for stranded witches or wizards. When Harry needs a quick escape from 4 Privet Drive and the Dursleys, it appears in a flash and takes Harry on a wild ride.

Patronus: This difficult charm, mastered by few, can stop a dementor. It creates a shadowy guardian, with an appearance unique to each wizard who conjures it, that acts as a shield against the dementors' soul-draining onslaught.

Quidditch: This game favored by wizards is a combination of baseball, lacrosse, soccer and Rugby played on flying broomsticks. The seven-player teams are made up of three chasers, who try to score 10-point goals with a red ball named a quaffle; two beaters, who try to knock black balls or bludgers into the path of opposing players; one keeper who tends the three goals; and a seeker who chases the golden snitch -- a sprightly ball the size of a walnut that is worth 150 points and whose capture ends the game.

Sirius Black: This wizard was convicted of murdering 13 people with a single curse. He escaped Azkaban Prison after 12 years in captivity and is believed to be stalking Harry. Before disappearing, Black was last heard muttering the phrase, "He's at Hogwarts."

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