What’s the Word? (in Harry Potter, that is.)

January 8th, 2012 by

Do you ever wonder if authors have favorite words? Words they just HAVE to include in their books and sneak in as many times as possible? I decided to investigate with the first chapter of each of the Harry Potter books with the help of the site Wordle.net, which provides a visual representation of how many times a word is used — the more times a word is mentioned, the larger it appears.

Click on each image to see it larger.

Sorcerer's Stone Chapter 1: "The Boy Who Lived"

Alright, nice start with Sorcerer’s Stone: “Dumbledore” and “Dursley” were expected, but I’m pleasantly surprised that Professor McGonagall received so many mentions (and therefore also “cat,” of course).

Chamber of Secrets

Chamber of Secrets Chapter 1: "The Worst Birthday"

Chamber of Secrets: Harry’s killing it in this one! But since he’s usually at the Dursleys’ in the first chapter, it’s understandable (though unfortunate) that we have to see “Vernon,” “Petunia,” and “Dudley” so many times.

Prisoner of Azkaban Chapter 1: "Owl Post"

Prisoner of Azkaban: I really like this Wordle design because the words are all jumbled up, just like how Harry’s world is just starting to get really jumbled up in this book.

Goblet of Fire Chapter 1: "The Riddle House"

Goblet of Fire: (Spoiler alert) When we think Goblet of Fire, we think the Tri-Wizard Tournament, Quidditch, visiting magical schools, and Cedric Diggory — but these aren’t mentioned in Chapter 1. Instead, we meet the doomed Muggle Frank Bryce and get a taste of how evil Voldemort is… Rowling really sets the mood of this book from the beginning! I also like that the Wordle looks like a (sideways) goblet.

Order of the Phoenix Chapter 1: "Dudley Demented"

Order of the Phoenix: I originally chose this design, but then decided against it because I thought it was more fitting that the large “Harry” was so close to “Dudley,” since Harry saved Dudley from the dementors.

Half-Blood Prince Chapter 1: "The Other Minister"

Half-Blood Prince: It’s a shame that I don’t see “Snape” in there at all. I like that this is green (like the book cover) and it really shows how important of a role the Ministry of Magic eventually plays in the Second Wizarding War.

Deathly Hallows Chapter 1: "The Dark Lord Ascending"

Deathly Hallows: I am SO excited I found this Wordle presentation for Deathly Hallows. Voldemort is giant (boo! hiss!) and the position of Snape’s name is so meaningful!

Conclusion: Okay, so my investigation shows that as much as J.K. Rowling loves the word “bemused” (at least, I think she does), she’s not going to include it as many times as her characters’ names!

— Nancy

Nancy did a test of Kidsmomo on Wordle and found that KAREN appears many more times than Nancy. Time to remedy that: Nancy Nancy Nancy Nancy Nancy Nancy Nancy Nancy Nancy…

More about Nancy »

7 Responses

  • haley writes:
    January 13th, 2012 at 10:03 am

    lol that is funny!!!! well to me..:)

  • haley writes:
    January 13th, 2012 at 10:03 am


  • Lysander writes:
    October 17th, 2017 at 2:31 pm


    • Geoff writes:
      October 24th, 2017 at 1:54 pm

      they technically are since the words represent how often they where mentioned, the bigger the word the more it was mentioned

      • Sam writes:
        October 31st, 2017 at 12:38 pm

        Sure, however if you were to just look at the visual then you would not be able to identify that the bigger the word the more they are mentioned in the book, you have to go to this page to find that out. It should be a graph with the information that they are trying to portray on the visual.

  • GABRIEL writes:
    November 3rd, 2017 at 12:04 pm


  • Saahir writes:
    November 7th, 2017 at 9:48 am

    I guess…???

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