The Harry Potter series is filled with delightful magic, deep world building and nuanced character development, all of which make it one of the most popular pieces of media ever created. The epic saga between good and evil is also full of British slang and customs, which is to be expected when the author, J.K. Rowling, is British herself. To those unfamiliar with English ways, many of these terms seem as if they're magical components along with the many spells and creatures.
Altered Britishisms, such as the swap of "Sorcerer" from "Philosopher" in the first book and film, was an easy translation for American fans. However, many details remain that only British fans truly understand.
When American Potterheads first encountered the word "snogging," many thought that it was a magical way to date someone, having never heard of the term before. "Making out" is the more common phrase used to describe feverish kissing in the United States.
Snog, which is defined as a verb that means "kiss and caress amorously," is a form of British slang. It was often used to describe Ron Weasley and Lavender Brown, a couple that snogged incessantly and had very little in common otherwise. Who snogged whom became a frequent theme in some of the later works as the kids grew into hormone-ridden — that is to say, normal — teenagers.
"Prefect" sounds like something out of a magical world, right along with "Occamy" and "Niffler," but British readers and viewers know that these jobs are held by students in many schools. Head Boy and Head Girl are also known among British students, as well as Irish and Commonwealth young men and women, who have attended independent schools.
Prefects are usually selected between the fifth and seventh year students. In the United States, the role is similar to that of a hall monitor or safety patrol member, but in some schools it's much more powerful, giving the students a lot of say in how the school is run outside the classroom itself.
8 Christmas Crackers
Breaking open small presents to find candy or tiny gifts inside during the holidays sounds fun, but it also sounds like something out of magical fairy tale to many Americans who had never even heard of the concept until after they encountered it in the world of Harry Potter. The party favor is common not only in England, but in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and other nations as well.
Since Harry Potter and other films like Arthur Christmas have mentioned Christmas crackers, they have become more well-known as actual human novelties in America to the point where stores like Target have even sold them.
7 Complicated Sports
Americans are used to sports that are relatively easy to follow, like baseball, hockey and American football. They don't know much about sports like cricket, which is much more complicated to follow and makes Quidditch seem much simpler in comparison.
Many British fans have pointed out that they enjoy complicated rules in games so much that they are even used in competitions like Numberwang and Mornington Crescent. While these are comedic in nature, they still point to the British love of the complex, which seems to extend into competitions, whether they be of a physical nature or more cerebral, often combining the two.
While treacle, a traditional British dessert ingredient made with sweet golden syrup, isn't completely unheard of in North America, most Americans had never even heard of it until witnessing characters salivate over it in the wizarding world, prompting them to believe it must be some magical food. In fact, most foods in the Harry Potter universe are taken from real British meals and treats, which makes many an American's jaw drop when they find out.
The great thing about British tarts, puddings and other goodies is that not only do they truly exist, but many can be found or made in North America to enjoy, too.
5 Trolley Carts
Anything off the trolley, dears? It's no wonder why this lovely exchange seemed so magical to Americans who've never experienced riding a train, let alone having a trolley cart of treats come by, offering an array of sweets and savory snacks.
A train trolley is one of the many cozy elements of traveling by train in England, and it certainly made perfect sense to English readers to see Harry and his friends purchase pumpkin pasties, chocolate frogs and other treats from the trolley witch. Americans could only sigh with envy upon realizing that this is an everyday activity for some people who live in England, not for wizards alone.
4 School Houses
While American schools have teams and mascots, a House system with points was new to many students, particularly those who attend public school. They just assumed it was one of the many magical elements of J.K. Rowling's imagination, but in reality there are schools in England that utilize this very system. Students are designated a house upon enrollment into school and each house has a symbol, colors and logo.
Knowing this, we feel a little more forgiving toward Dumbledore after wondering why such a competitive system that only serves to divide the students up was used by the wizarding school. It's not just Hogwarts; it's used by many schools in real life.
When the Weasleys camp in a luxurious tent that is almost more glamorous than the Burrow, it seems like a huge magical production. It's what prepared us for Hermione's extension charm on her bag. In the United States, "glamping," or luxury, "glamorous camping," is now a thing, but traditionally most people "rough iy" when they camp, whether that means sleeping in tents or right beneath the stars.
It turns out that a lot of British campers have been doing this for a while, setting up multi-room tents that feature sitting areas, kitchens and other cozy elements to make it more like home. It doesn't match the World Cup camping witnessed in The Goblet of Fire, but it shares the same elements.
2 Sherbet Lemons
Another fun food that's not limited to wizards, sherbet lemons are a common sweet shop staple in England. The hard candies are a bit like American Lemonheads or lemon drops, but they are filled with a fizzy, sweet powder that makes them even more irresistible. Dumbledore loves them so much that he uses them as a password at one point, but he also knows they are Muggle treats.
Muggle readers, however, were totally fooled into thinking that they were simply another magical concept invented by J.K. Rowling within this rich and wondrous world. Many readers exclaim with delight upon encountering the completely normal treats in an English store.
1 The Name Hermione
Hermione's name has had a funny history throughout the books. Not only did many American readers struggle with its pronunciation so badly that J.K. Rowling found it necessary to include a scene about pronouncing it correctly in The Goblet of Fire, but they also assumed that it was one of Rowling's many made up wizarding names.
Not so. Hermione is, after all, a Muggle-born witch, so why would her parents give her a magical name? The name, which is of Greek origin, means "princess of Hermes," so the real question is why Rowling named the cleverest witch of her age after the messenger god and not the god of wisdom, Athena.