There is no disputing that Harry Potter has changed the literary world in ways that no one could have ever dreamed of. In the novels many of the seemingly fictional terms are actually derived from real words that often allude to the thing they are naming. For example, the cruciatus curse stems from the Latin word crucio meaning “to torture.” Similarly the Latin word Lupin means “wolf-like”, thus appropriately naming Harry’s werewolf Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. Yes, J.K. Rowling knew exactly what she was doing, but like all other greats she made a human error when creating her nearly flawless magical world. Though she cleverly named an entirely fictional world, there is one term that she may have reconsidered using if she had only known its background.
In the wonderful wizarding world of Harry Potter, “muggle” is the term used to refer to non-magic folk. However, in the real world it had a slightly different meaning. The word “muggle” was first used in the 1920s among the New Orleans jazz crowd as a colloquial term for cannabis. More affectionately known as marijuana. The slang “muggle” actually grew to be pretty common at the time. In 1931 TIME magazine actually published an article stating “Marijuana is a variety of hemp weed (Cannabis sativa) long common in Mexico, lately becoming common in the U. S. Its leaves can be dried, ground and rolled into cigarets, which are bootlegged under the name of ‘muggles.’ Thinner, shorter than standard cigarets, ‘muggles’ are made from the small delicate leaves of the female marijuana plant.”
Seriously, this was common vernacular back in the day. Who knew some day potheads and Pottheads would come to have so much in common. So next time you are considering Rowling a joint –it had to be done- you might want to just pick up a fantastic novel an read about Muggles instead.