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In J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series, a Muggle (/ˈmʌɡəl/) is a person who lacks any sort of magical ability and was not born in a magical family. Muggles can also be described as people who do not have any magical blood inside them. It differs from the term Squib, which refers to a person with one or more magical parents yet without any magical power/ability, and from the term Muggle-born (or the derogatory and offensive term mudblood, which is used to imply the supposed impurity of Muggle blood), which refers to a person with magical abilities but with non-magical parents. The equivalent term used by the in-universe magic community of America is No-Maj, which is short for No Magic.[1]

Usage in Harry Potter[edit]

The term Muggle is sometimes used in a pejorative manner in the books. Since Muggle refers to a person who is a member of the non-magical community, Muggles are simply ordinary human beings without any magical powers and almost always with no awareness of the existence of magic. According to Rowling, a quarter of the annual Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry intake have two non-magical parents;[citation needed] these are called muggle-borns. There have also been some children known to have been born to one magical and one non-magical parent. Children of this mixed parentage are called half-bloods (strictly speaking, they are 'Literal Half-bloods'[citation needed]); children with recent Muggle ancestry on the one side or the other are also called half-bloods. The most prominent Muggle-born in the Harry Potter series is Hermione Granger, who had two Muggles of unspecified names as parents. A witch or wizard with all magical heritage is called a pure-blood.

In the Harry Potter books, non-magical people are often portrayed as foolish, sometimes befuddled characters, who are completely ignorant of the Wizarding world that exists in their midst. If, by unfortunate means, non-magical people do happen to observe the working of magic, the Ministry of Magic sends Obliviators to cast Memory Charms upon them, causing them to forget the event.

Some Muggles, however, know of the wizarding world. These include Muggle parents of magical children, such as Hermione Granger's parents, the Muggle Prime Minister (and his predecessors), the Dursley family (Harry Potter's non-magical and only living relatives), and the non-magical spouses of some witches and wizards.

Rowling has stated she created the word "Muggle" from "mug", an English term for someone who is easily fooled. She added the "-gle" to make it sound less demeaning and more "cuddly".[2]

Notable Muggles[edit]

Other usages[edit]

The word muggle, or muggles, is now used in various contexts in which its meaning is similar to the sense in which it appears in the Harry Potter book series. Generally speaking, it is used by members of a group to describe those outside the group, comparable to civilian as used by military personnel. Whereas in the books muggle is consistently capitalized, in other uses it is often predominately lowercase.

  • According to the BBC quiz show QI, in the episode "Hocus Pocus", muggle was a 1930s jazz slang word for someone who uses cannabis. "Muggles" is the title of a 1928 recording by Louis Armstrong and His Orchestra.
  • A muggle is, according to Abbott Walter Bower, the author of the Scotichronicon, "an Englishman's tail". In Alistair Moffat's book A History of the Borders from Early Times, it is stated that there was a widely held 13th-century belief amongst Scots that Englishmen had tails.[3]
  • Ernest Bramah referred to "the artful Muggles" in a detective story published decades before the Potter books ("The Ghost at Massingham Mansions", in The Eyes of Max Carrados, Doran, New York, 1924).
  • Muggle was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2003, where it is said to refer to a person who is lacking a skill.[4]
  • Muggle is used in informal English by members of small, specialised groups, usually those that consider their activities to either be analogous to or directly involve magic (such as within hacker culture;[5] and pagans, Neopagans and Wiccans)[6] to refer to those outside the group.
  • In online forums for people with herpes, Muggle is used to describe someone who (presumably) does not have HSV.
  • Muggle (or geomuggle) is used by geocachers to refer to those not involved in or aware of the sport of geocaching. A cache that has been tampered with by non-participants is said to be plundered or muggled.[7]
  • Muggle is similarly used by Hash House Harriers to refer to members of the public who are not hashers.

Trademark Lawsuit[edit]

Nancy Stouffer, author of The Legend of Rah and Muggles (1984) accused Rowling of a trademark violation for the use of the term "muggles", as well as copyright violations for some similarities to her book.[8] Rowling and Scholastic, her publisher, sued for declaratory judgment and won on a summary judgment motion,[9] based on a lack of likelihood of confusion.

In popular culture[edit]

  • The NBC science fiction drama series Heroes features a dog named Mr. Muggles, who is owned by the Bennet family. The writers of the show have stated that the dog's name is an allusion to the Harry Potter series as, like Harry, Claire Bennet has been adopted by a family who does not have any special abilities.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Child, Ben (2015-11-06). "What, no muggles? JK Rowling fans aghast at new term for non-wizards". The Guardian. Retrieved 2018-05-14.
  2. ^ "2004: Accio Quote!, the largest archive of J.K. Rowling interviews on the web".
  3. ^ Alistair Moffat, The Borders: a history of the Borders from earliest times, 2002, Deerpark Press, ISBN 9780954197902, pp.211-212
  4. ^ "BBC: 'Muggle' goes into Oxford English Dictionary". BBC News. 24 March 2003. Retrieved 5 January 2010.
  5. ^ Jargon File: muggle
  6. ^ Faith von Adams, "I Roomed with a Muggle", New Witch Magazine, Issue 5 (Fall 2003) pg. 34
  7. ^ "Geocaching Glossary". Retrieved 20 September 2007.
  8. ^ Burden of Proof 'Harry Potter' Book Lawsuit: 'Legend of Rah and Muggles' Author Claims Trademark Violations, Burden of Proof, CNN Transcripts, July 5, 2000,
  9. ^ "Stouffer v. Rowling Summary Judgment Decision, Sept. 17, 2002".

External links[edit]