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"And saying the magic words properly is very important, too — never forget Wizard Baruffio, who said 's' instead of 'f' and found himself on the floor with a buffalo on his chest."
Filius Flitwick on the importance of enunciating incantations correctly[src]

An incantation was the magic word or words spoken to cast a spell.


Spells could be cast without saying the incantation out loud by a skilled witch or wizard, but the incantation still needed to be in one's mind while casting. Most known incantations derived from the Latin language but there were a few which were English. Foreign wizards might have incantations that were quite different from the ones used by English people, as even Madam Villanelle, a skilled linguist, couldn't comprehend the incantations used by the Japanese white-robed wizard when duelling, though it isn't known whether the incantations were in a different language or were the same ones with a heavy accent.[1]

Spells cast using an incorrect incantation might fail in various ways, such as setting things on fire, an undesired outcome, or absolutely nothing at all. In certain cases, the side effects could be quite severe, and Professor Filius Flitwick urged his first-year Charms students to remember the example of Wizard Baruffio who once said 's' instead of 'f' and conjured a buffalo on top of his chest.[2]

An incantation would not work without conscious effort, intent or magical prowess of the caster. For example, Bartemius Crouch Jnr, in disguise as Alastor Moody stated regarding the Killing Curse (incantation - Avada Kedavra) to his fourth-year students that they could "get your wands out and point them at me and say the words, and I doubt I'd get so much as a nosebleed."[3] Similarly, a Muggle or Squib would never be able to perform magic, no matter how many incantations they might shout.[4]

There was also a wizarding record label named "Incantation Records".[5]


When introducing his class to his first-year students in 1991, Severus Snape stated that there would be "no foolish wand-waving or silly incantations" in the class.[6] This however, was likely something of an exaggeration, as it was necessary to channel magic at some point in order to make a potion,[7] and in the case of more complicated potions, the use of a spell might be needed for the identification of ingredients, among other reasons.[8]

Known incantations

Behind the scenes


Notes and references