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What is the symbolism of the name Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter?

What is this representing?

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The last name is actually not that fancy. As this old interview with Rowling states:

How did you decide what to name your characters and places?

I collect unusual names. I have notebooks full of them. Some of the names I made up, like Quidditch, Malfoy. Other names mean something -- Dumbledore, which means "bumblebee" in Old English...seemed to suit the headmaster, because one of his passions is music and I imagined him walking around humming to himself. And so far I have got names from saints, place-names, war memorials, gravestones. I just collect them -- I am so interested in names.

(Barnes and Nobles Interview with J.K. Rowling (1999); Emphasis mine)

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Albus

As you state, Albus translates to "white", which was a nod to alchemy:

Colours also played their part in the naming of Hagrid and Dumbledore, whose first names are Rubeus (red) and Albus (white) respectively. The choice was a nod to alchemy, which is so important in the first Harry Potter book, where 'the red' and 'the white' are essential mystical components of the process. The symbolism of the colours in this context has mystic meaning, representing different stages of the alchemic process (which many people associate with a spiritual transformation). Where my two characters were concerned, I named them for the alchemical colours to convey their opposing but complementary natures: red meaning passion (or emotion); white for asceticism; Hagrid being the earthy, warm and physical man, lord of the forest; Dumbledore the spiritual theoretician, brilliant, idealised and somewhat detached. Each is a necessary counterpoint to the other as Harry seeks father figures in his new world.

Colours by J.K. Rowling

Dumbledore

J.K. Rowling just imagined him as such:

How did you decide what to name your characters and places?

I collect unusual names. I have notebooks full of them. Some of the names I made up, like Quidditch, Malfoy. Other names mean something -- Dumbledore, which means "bumblebee" in Old English...seemed to suit the headmaster, because one of his passions is music and I imagined him walking around humming to himself. And so far I have got names from saints, place-names, war memorials, gravestones. I just collect them -- I am so interested in names.

Barnes and Noble interview, March 19, 1999

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Quote from Rowling herself:

Many of the names are invented, for example "Quidditch" and "Muggle." I also collect unusual names, and I take them from all sorts of different places. "Hedwig" was a saint, "Dumbledore" is an old English word for "bumblebee," and "Snape" is the name of a place in England.

Albus is also interesting. It's probable she just liked the word; Albus might have something to do with white=good. It also could be a reference to Gandalf the White. Albus can also mean wise, and could be a reference to Merlin (Albion).

Percival is the name of Albus's father. No idea where Wulfric and Brian are from.

  • This is the same as another answer – Beastly Gerbil Jan 18 '17 at 20:05
  • @BeastlyGerbil When I began writing it it wasn't...it does have a few points that are not the same. Would you like me to delete it? – CHEESE Jan 18 '17 at 20:06
  • Fair enough, if you didn't notice – Beastly Gerbil Jan 18 '17 at 20:08

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