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A human and a house-elf, both examples of beings

A being was one of the three classifications used by the British Ministry of Magic to catalogue the various magical creatures that inhabited the wizarding world (the others being beast and spirit).


The definition of a being was "any creature that has sufficient intelligence to understand the laws of the magical community and to bear part of the responsibility in shaping those laws". This definition was laid down by Minister for Magic Grogan Stump in 1811, and the Being Division was formed as part of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures.[1]

However, there were exceptions to the rule; there were some creature that were classified as beasts for one reason or another, even though they had the same level of intelligence as beings, as well as the ability to speak. Manticores and sphinxes were classified as beasts because of their extreme aggressiveness. Acromantulas and Erklings were classified as beasts because of their taste for human flesh.

Centaurs and merpeople were both offered the status of being, but they both requested to be classified as beasts instead, as they objected to some of the other creatures they would have to share "being" status with, such as hags and vampires. With this in mind, teaching material on them noted that they were to be treated with great respect.[1]

Additionally, werewolves were classified as beings like any other human, however they were classified as Beasts when in their transformed state during the full moon. However, they were still also classified as sentient by the Ministry of Magic.[1]


The definition of "being" had a long and troubled history. In the fourteenth century, Burdock Muldoon, Chief of the Wizards' Council, attempted to define Beings as any member of the magical community that walked on two legs. Muldoon invited all Beings to a summit to discuss new magical laws, and saw that his definition was unworkable. Goblins had brought with them every creature they could find with two legs, including Diricawls, Augureys, fwoopers, pixies, fairies, and trolls, and the summit descended into chaos when the Trolls started to destroy the chamber with their clubs.[1]

Muldoon's successor, Elfrida Clagg, attempted to redefine Beings as those that could speak the human tongue. However, there were still problems at the next summit. Trolls were still classed as Beings since they could be taught the Human tongue, and Jarveys were in attendance. The centaurs refused to take part since the merpeople were excluded, as Mermish cannot be understood above water. Ghosts, who had not been classed as Beings under Muldoon since they glided, left in disgust at the Council's emphasis on matters of the living over matters of the dead.[1]

In 1811, Grogan Stump laid down the new definition of a Being, to the agreement of the magical community, along with the definition of a "Beast". However, the ghosts were still sensitive to being classed as beings since they were clearly "has-beens", and a new definition, "spirit" was created for them.[1]


Humans (Muggles and wizards and witches) were beings, though there were extremists who campaigned for the classification of Muggles as Beasts. Goblins, vampires, hags, giants, house-elves, veela, and werewolves in their human form were also given this status. It is important to note that when there was a full moon, the werewolf in its transformed state would be classified as a beast and not a being.

Merpeople and centaurs were offered this status, but refused because they did not want to be grouped with creatures such as hags and vampires, and were by default classified as beasts.[1]

Other creatures fit the qualifications that define Being (intelligent speech), such as Acromantulas, sphinxes, manticores, and Erklings, but were not even offered being status due to their extremely violent and even lethal tendencies, and thus they were also classified as beasts.[1]

Dementors and Boggarts, on the other hand, were neither a being nor a beast, as they were non-beings, a type of spirit.[2]

Creatures currently specified as Beings[]

Behind the scenes[]

  • The final definition seems to determine that any creature with sapience can be considered a being. This concept is noted in various science fiction universes, especially in Star Wars. However, some of the less civilised sapient species do not possess the status of beings, like banshees or manticores.
  • In the German translation, the Being status is translated as Zauberwesen ("magical creatures"). This translation is problematic in-universe, as this classification also includes giants and even Muggles, who have no magical abilities at all. The other classifications are translated Tierwesen ("animal creatures") and Geisterwesen ("spirit creatures").


Notes and references[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
  2. Writing by J. K. Rowling: "Boggart" at Wizarding World
  3. While their classification is never said explicitly, they are shown to be treated with the same laws as wizards in the series, effectively making them beings.

See also[]