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Brief HP tidbit - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Brief HP tidbit
Someone on my f-list who I can't remember or find mentioned that he was all excited to find out what Grimmauld Place meant, only to have a young son point out that it means "Grim Old Place." True, of course, true. But why let that spoil a good question? :p So I looked in the dictionary of surnames, and I'd bet that Grimmauld is a variant of Grimaud (including variants like Grimault, Grimal, Grimaux, Grémaud, Grimoldi, Grimaudi, and Grimod, according the dictionary). This is derived from a Germanic personal name combining the words grim (!) (mask) and wald (rule). (Hey, German speakers--what does grindel mean (or what is it the root of)? BabelFish says "standard," but doesn't translate "standard" back to "grindel." Basically, if "wald" means rule, then what does it say about Grindelwald?) And "Grindelwald" and "Grimmauld" are phonetically close... any connection?

Was going to mix this with another post, but I'll make a second one instead, since it's an entirely different subject.
16 comments or Leave a comment
espresso_rabbit From: espresso_rabbit Date: January 6th, 2005 11:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hmm...that's interesting. I can't help with the German, but I always thought Grindelwald sounded a bit like Grendel. For a minute I thought that's what you were asking, and couldn't figure out why you'd spelled it wrong.

(Sorry to just fly by...I've been reading Shifts, and I think I've commented a couple times, but I'm not entirely sure. For the record: great story.)
the_gentleman From: the_gentleman Date: January 7th, 2005 12:02 am (UTC) (Link)
Mauld would translate from OE in to either Skull or Earth. Grim was used by the Saxons to mean Devil in some place names apparently (Grim's Ditch for example) though this could be a little unfounded. If that's allowed though, then Devil's Mound would be another way of translating it. I might ask one of my tutors from the English Place Name Society what the likelihood is.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 7th, 2005 12:03 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, that would be good. :)
trinity_clare From: trinity_clare Date: January 7th, 2005 05:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'd read the "Grim Old Place" story before, but looking at it again, there's something else. If "Grim" really means "Devil" it ties in to PoA and the Grim (as in the dog), doesn't it? And then Grimmauld Place is a place with a Grim. Fitting, isn't it?

It's obvious that JKR studied German, if only to get the names. Which begs the question (which I've never had answered): Does Durmstrang come from where I think it does? Because there was a literary movement in Germany in the late 1700s called Sturm und Drang (Storm and Stress), which sounds a lot like Durmstrang with the letters switched. (What's that called? Spoonerism?)

Anyway, there's a article on it here. It's an interesting thought, while we're on the subject of German etymology.
katinka31 From: katinka31 Date: January 7th, 2005 12:36 am (UTC) (Link)
My first reaction to the name "Grimmauld Place" was, "Oh, the Grim's Old Place." Don't know if that's what she meant at all, though!
uraneia From: uraneia Date: January 7th, 2005 12:55 am (UTC) (Link)
This was ringing a bell, so I looked up 'grindel' in my trusty German-English dictionary, knowing I'd heard it before. 'Grindel' wasn't listed, but 'Grind' translates to 'scab.' Odd...
fiatincantatum From: fiatincantatum Date: January 7th, 2005 01:29 am (UTC) (Link)
Hmm, when I took German, "wald" meant "forest" as in Schwartzwald (Black Forest)
mafdet From: mafdet Date: January 7th, 2005 02:28 am (UTC) (Link)
I love what JKR does with names, making what on the surface seems a simple pun to have layers of meaning.
melyanna From: melyanna Date: January 7th, 2005 02:38 am (UTC) (Link)
"Wald" means forest or wood. I'm not sure where Babelfish got rule from, but that's one of the worst translators on the web, at least for German. www.freetranslation.com is much better for German, and this German-English dictionary is excellent.

"Grindel" I'm not so sure of. The closest I can find is "der Grind," which has a variety of meanings. I'm fairly certain that JKR wasn't aiming for dandruff, but it's also the word for scar, and more specifically, for burn-related scars and a skin disease called impetigo, which has some rather nasty symptoms.

I don't know a whole lot about the etymology of German surnames, but I'd imagine they're not that different from English ones. Grindelwald was probably from somewhere in or around the Black Forest, and it's possible that JKR is invoking an idea of fire or pain with the name. That'd be my guess, at least.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 7th, 2005 04:56 am (UTC) (Link)
Actually the "wald" came from the surname dictionary--it may be an old form of the language. It said "Germanic," not "German," so that may be an issue. It was the "Grindel" that I went to BabelFish for (it gave me "standard").
persephone_kore From: persephone_kore Date: January 7th, 2005 03:00 am (UTC) (Link)
There is a place in Switzerland called Grindelwald. It's a ski resort. Haven't found anything at its promotional websites relating to the etymology, though, sadly enough.

I did kind of do a doubletake when Hermione mentioned her family going skiing, though.
krabapple From: krabapple Date: January 7th, 2005 04:28 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, the little boy was right, of course. :)

And it finally dawned on me the other day that "Grimmauld," translated from German or not, contains "grim" right there--which, I assume, is another reference to Sirius and his animagus form, and a big nod to Prisoner of Azkaban, where Sirius was "the grim." Or not the grim, as the case may be. :)
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 7th, 2005 07:11 am (UTC) (Link)

The source of "Grim Old Place"

You might have seen something on your f-list, but where I heard about the little boy and "Grim Old Place" was on the Lexicon here


Perhaps this is what you were thinking of and couldn't find? The quote about the boy is all the way at the bottom in small type.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: January 7th, 2005 08:57 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: The source of "Grim Old Place"

That could be. I was looking at it earlier today, and it may have just sunk in as "something I read on my f-list."
thalia_seawood From: thalia_seawood Date: January 7th, 2005 08:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well, I'm German and I can assure you that "Grindel" is not a German word.
"Wald" means definitely "forest".
From: (Anonymous) Date: January 7th, 2005 10:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've found this:


The catch being that the article is auf Deutsch!

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