"An' anyway, yeh couldn' work any of them curses yet, yeh'll need a lot more study before yeh get ter that level."
—Rubeus Hagrid to first year Harry Potter[src]

A curse is a type of Dark charm[1] which is used for the worst kinds of Dark magic.[2] The most heinous of the three dark charms, curses come in many strengths and forms,[3] but are usually reserved for causing immense suffering to the victim,[4] such as excruciating pain, mind control, or even death.


A curse is classified as a Dark charm, which is primarily defined as any spell that affects the object in a negative manner, typically associated with varying levels of discomfort.[1] A curse is the worst kind of dark magic, affecting the target in a severely negative manner.[2]

While curses come in many strengths and forms, they are generally the most wicked, strongest, longest-lasting, and least reversible of the Dark charms. The Unforgivable Curses are the strongest known Dark charms in existence, as their effects are very powerful and their use requires skill.

Blood maledictions are a specific type of curse that may not kill the target but can remain within the victim's body, and be passed down as a genetic defect that can resurface generations later. Astoria Malfoy suffered from such as curse, as her ancestor passed down a malediction that showed up in her, causing Astoria's body to be frail, and childbirth was what weakened her to the point of death a few years later.[5]

Drinking unicorn blood extends one's lifespan even if at the brink of death, but it curses the drinker's life, for they have slain an innocent animal to selfishly extend their own life. It is said to be an act that only those who have nothing to lose and everything to gain would commit.[6]


Like jinxes, Hogwarts students studying Defence Against the Dark Arts only learn a few minor curses in a defensive manner for duelling and defence against Dark creatures, but especially learn how to deal with them using defensive magic. Curses may be blocked or deflected with a Shield Charm, and be removed with a Counter-curse. The two most notable exceptions to this are the Killing curse and the Cruciatus Curse, two of the Unforgivable Curses, which can only be dodged, intercepted or blocked with physical objects. However, the Cruciatus Curse may be prevented by more powerful Shield Charms in combination with other protective enchantments.

List of Curses

Name Incantation Effect
A Antonin Dolohov's curse The curse is cast using "a sudden slashing movement with the wand," causing a streak of purple flame to strike the target.[7]
B Babbling Curse This curse is not fully understood but it is presumed to cause a person to babble whenever they try to speak.[8]
Blasting Curse Confringo This curse is a spell that causes anything that the spell comes into contact with to explode. This curse can be very dangerous and even deadly, if not used responsibly. It was used in the murder of twelve Muggles.[9]
Tumblr n0oob0xVtb1qa3emao5 250
Bellatrix Lestrange's curse Although the caster used this curse to kill, it probably just makes the victim fall or have a push effect.[7]
Blood-Bourne Curse A curse that resurfaces after many generations to affect descendants of the one who was originally cursed.
C Conjunctivitis Curse A curse that causes irritation in the target's eyes, causing them to swell shut like the infection conjunctivitis, commonly known as "pink eye". The Oculus Potion ends the effects of this curse.
Cruciatus Curse Crucio A tool of the Dark Arts and one of the three Unforgivable Curses. It is one of the most powerful and sinister spells known to wizardkind. When cast successfully, the curse inflicts intense, excruciating pain on the victim.
Voldemort crucio harry
Curse of the Bogies Mucus ad Nauseam A curse that gives the recipient a strong cold, that can make him or her collapse if not treated, as well as an extremely runny nose.
Curse on Marvolo Gaunt's ring A powerful curse was placed upon Marvolo Gaunt's Ring, around the time that Lord Voldemort turned it into a Horcrux, as a defence against anyone who might try to destroy it. This curse was designed to quickly kill anyone who dared to wear the ring.
Cursed barrier A curse used to prevent the members of the Order from interfering with Draco Malfoy's attempt to assassinate Albus Dumbledore.
D Disintegration curse A curse that causes the person who is hit, to burst into small pieces and disintegrate.
E Ear-shrivelling Curse This curse caused the target's ears to shrivel up.
Entrail-Expelling Curse Its effects are unknown, but presumably it causes one's entrails to be expelled from the body.
Expulso Curse  Expulso A curse used to produce immense explosions, blasting the target apart with a burst of blue light; it has enough force to throw people into walls.
F Fiendfyre

A bewitched flame of abnormal size and heat, infused with dark magic, capable of seeking out living targets despite being non-sentient.

Flagrante curse Is a curse that causes objects to emit searing heat when touched.
Full Body-Bind Curse Petrificus Totalus A curse that instantly paralyses the opponent.
PetrificusTotalus PS
Floating Eye Curse Conjures a large, floating eye to hover stationary over an area.
G Gemino Curse  


Is a spell used to duplicate an object, creating an exact replica of the target entity. It can also be used to bewitch an object into multiplying repeatedly when touched.

Gemino Curse 2
Ghostly head curse This spell is a curse that manifests itself as a ghostly green head that can be used to knock out an opponent.
Gormlaith Gaunt's curse A powerful curse that puts people into an enchanted slumber and pretty much nothing is able to wake up.
H Hair Loss Curse Calvorio A curse that removes the victim's hair or headdress.
I Imperius Curse Imperio A tool of the Dark Arts, and is one of the three Unforgivable Curses. It is one of the most powerful and sinister spells known to wizardkind. When cast successfully, the curse places the victim completely under the caster's control, though a person with exceptional strength of will is capable of resisting it.
J Jelly-Fingers Curse A curse that causes the victim's fingers to take on an almost jelly-like consistency.
Jelly-Legs Curse Locomotor Wibbly A spell that causes the victim's legs to collapse.
K Killing Curse Avada Kedavra A tool of the Dark Arts and one of the three Unforgivable Curses. It is one of the most powerful and sinister spells known to wizardkind. When cast successfully on a living person or creature, the curse causes instantaneous, painless death.
L Leg-Locker Curse Locomotor Mortis Is a curse that is used to bind the legs of the victim together.
Neville Longbottom under the effects of the Leg-Locker Curse
Lycacomia Curse A Dark spell used to induce lycanthropy.
M Morsmordre Morsmordre

Used to conjure the Dark Mark, the skull-and-serpent sign used by Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters.

O Opal Necklace Curse A very deadly curse, when it makes physical contact on the victim, the curse would spread rapidly on the recipient, the level of the effect dependent on the amount of contact made. 
R Reductor Curse Reducto A curse that can be used to blast solid objects into pieces. It is rather easy to reduce a target to a fine mist or a pile of ashes.
OOTP DA Ginny Reducto
S Sectumsempra

A dangerous curse, its effect is the equivalent of an invisible sword; it is used to slash the victim from a distance, causing rather deep wounds.

Sectumempra Curse
Sponge-Knees Curse Was a curse which presumably made the target's legs spongy, making it difficult for them to walk.
Slug-Vomiting Charm Slugulus Eructo

A curse, that causes the victim to burp up slugs and slime.

Ron vomiting slugs
T Tongue-Tying Curse Mimble Wimble Binds the target's tongue to keep him or her from talking about a specific subject. 
Thief's Curse A spell that can be applied to books. Its effect is not fully understood, but it activates if someone tries to read a book for too long without paying for it.

A powerful spell which designates a word as a key to revealing the speaker's location.

Deatly Hallows - Taboo

Behind the scenes

  • Wizards may have the ability to send curses in the post. This is unconfirmed, but in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire a piece of Hermione Granger's hate mail claimed that it is possible.
  • According to W.O.M.B.A.T., it may not be possible to cure a curse victim without the correct counter-curse.
  • J. K. Rowling defined curses as "the worst kinds of dark magic".[2]
  • Even though Rowling herself specified the differences between curses, hexes, and jinxes, she states that "Within the Potter world, the boundaries are flexible and I imagine that wizards may have their own ideas."[4] This shows that the categorization of dark charms is not set and stone, and may sometimes be used interchangeably. This explains why some spells are known by multiple names, like why the Slug-vomiting Charm is a curse, and why the Jelly-Legs Curse is also sometimes known as the Jelly-Legs Jinx. This also explains why some curses, such as the Leg-Locker Curse, Jelly-Legs Curse and Full Body-Bind Curse, which don't cause any lasting injury, seem to fall more under the definition of a jinx or hex, while Voldemort's Jinx on the post of Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher has had serious, lasting consequences for several of those affected, which would seem more like a curse.


Notes and references

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