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Disarming Charm

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"There was a dazzling flash of scarlet light and Lockhart was blasted off his feet: he flew backwards off the stage, smashed into the wall and slid down it to sprawl on the floor."
—Snape uses it on Lockhart.[src]

The Disarming Charm (Expelliarmus) is a defensive charm that disarms an opponent, causing whatever is in the person's hand at the time, usually a wand, to fly out of his or her hand.

The creator of Disarming Charm are unknown, but coming famous after the duel between Elizabeth Smudgling and a dueller in a duelling contest on Dartmoore in 1379. When the dueller casting a complex spell having a long incantation (if he can finish it) can make a mountain to rip out from the earth and hit on Elizabeth's head, Elizabeth used the Disarming Charm to blow the dueller's wand (when he still speak the spell) blow away from his hand make Elizabeth win the duel and the Charm coming famous from that day.

It has been known to knock an opponent backwards in some cases, as well as disarming them. This may depend on whether the spell strikes an opponent's wand or body.

Appearance and effect


Severus Snape's use against Gilderoy Lockhart in 1992

The exact effects of the Disarming Charm vary. Sometimes, especially when aimed at the opponent's chest, the spell manifests itself as a "jet of red light", and knocks the victim backwards as well as disarming him or her. This is what happened to Viktor Krum in 1995 and Severus Snape in 1993. On other occasions, the charm does not have a colour, and instead simply makes a wand fly from the victim's hand. When Severus Snape cast the spell on Gilderoy Lockhart, it was shown as a scarlet ring surrounding the wand, with a streak of scarlet light heading towards Lockhart. It may be that the effects are dependant on what it hits - if it hits a wand, the wand is launched, and if it hits a person, the person is launched.

When Cho Chang spoke the incantation incorrectly, Expellimellius, it set her friend Marietta Edgecombe's sleeve on fire. Sometimes when the spell is done weakly but not incorrectly it can make someones hair just stand on end or blow them back a few paces. When Harry Potter, Ronald Weasley, and Hermione Granger all hit Severus Snape with the spell at the exact same time, the force of it was enough to knock him out for at least an hour.

Interestingly, this spell is one of the most effective way of swaying a wand's allegiance from its present owner to the one who disarmed it from them.

Use by Harry Potter

"Expelliarmus is a useful spell, Harry, but the Death Eaters seem to think it is your signature move, and I urge you not to let it become so!"
Remus Lupin discussing the Death Eaters' knowledge of Harry Potter's signature spell[src]

Many people considered the Disarming Charm to be the signature spell of Harry Potter. Despite being taught it by Severus Snape, the teacher he despised the most until the events of 1997, Harry found it quite useful and utilised it often in direct confrontation with another wizard. He became highly proficient with it in 1994 when practicing for the Triwizard Tournament. At the end of the tournament, after he and Cedric Diggory were transported to the graveyard in Little Hangleton and Cedric was murdered, Harry faced the newly-restored Lord Voldemort in a duel. Voldemort used the Killing Curse and Harry used the Disarming Charm. Due to the natural brotherhood of Harry's wand and Voldemort's wand, both containing cores from the same source (that source being Fawkes, Albus Dumbledore's pet Phoenix), both duellers' spells proved ineffective, creating the rare Priori Incantatem effect which greatly contributed to Harry's subsequent escape.[1]

Many Death Eaters witnessed this, and took to believing that it was Harry's signature move. In the Battle of the Seven Potters, they identified him as the real Harry Potter out of the "seven Potters" once he used the Disarming Charm against the Imperiused Stan Shunpike. Remus Lupin later chided Harry for using Expelliarmus in battle conditions, but Harry continued to value it; his argument being that hitting Stan with a stunning spell, as Lupin had suggested, could have ultimately killed him after falling from such a height.


Harry Potter casting the Disarming Charm during the Duel in Little Hangleton

When Voldemort attacked Harry, his wand recognised Voldemort as an enemy, despite the fact that the Dark Lord was using Lucius Malfoy's wand instead of his own in order to avoid causing Priori Incantatem. Harry's wand shot "a spurt of golden fire" at Voldemort, destroying Lucius's wand and allowing Harry and Rubeus Hagrid to escape to safety..[2] In his final duel with Voldemort during the Battle of Hogwarts, Harry again used a Disarming Charm against Voldemort's Killing Curse, repeating the event of 1995 with the exception of Priori Incantatem taking place.

Known uses

Caster(s) Victim(s) Notes
Severus Snape Gilderoy Lockhart Duelling Club demonstration in 1992.[3]
Harry Potter Draco Malfoy Took Tom Riddle's Diary back. This was the first time Harry ever used the spell.[3]
Harry Potter Gilderoy Lockhart In 1993 in self-defence.[3]
Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, Fred and George Weasley, Ginny Weasley Each other In 1993, on the Hogwarts Express.[3]
Sirius Black Harry Potter and Hermione Granger In the Shrieking Shack in 1994.[4]
Remus Lupin Harry Potter and Hermione Granger In the Shrieking Shack in 1994.[4]
Severus Snape Sirius Black In the Shrieking Shack in 1994 [4]
Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley Severus Snape In the Shrieking Shack in 1994; knocked unconscious.[4]
Harry Potter Peter Pettigrew In 1994.[4]
Cedric Diggory Viktor Krum After Viktor attacked Cedric before Harry's Intervention declaring Viktor was Bewitched during the Third Task of the Triwizard Tournament, 24 June, 1995.
Harry Potter An Acromantula During the Third Task of the Triwizard Tournament.[1]
Harry Potter Lord Voldemort Resulted into Priori Incantatem.[1]
James Potter Severus Snape During their Hogwarts years.[5]
Neville Longbottom Harry Potter During a meeting of Dumbledore's Army; the first time Neville cast the spell successfully.[5]
Neville Longbottom Hermione Granger During a later D.A. meeting.[5]
Fred and George Weasley Zacharias Smith May have been a nonverbal use.[5]
Zacharias Smith Anthony Goldstein Attempted in D.A. meeting, but failed.[5]
Ginny Weasley Michael Corner In a D.A. meeting; Harry Potter was not sure if this was because Michael was incompetent or because he did not want to hex his girlfriend.[5]
Ernie Macmillan Unknown Unsuccessful attempt during first D.A. meeting.[5]
Colin and Dennis Creevey Each other Unsuccessful attempt during first D.A. meeting.[5]
Luna Lovegood Justin Finch-Fletchley During a D.A. meeting; sometimes successful, sometimes not.[5]
Neville Longbottom, Ron Weasley, and Luna Lovegood Inquisitorial Squad members Managed to escape them.[5]
Neville Longbottom A Death Eater and Harry Potter During the Battle of the Department of Mysteries.[5]
Draco Malfoy Albus Dumbledore On top of the Astronomy Tower in 1997; Draco thus became the unwitting master of the Elder Wand.[6]
Harry Potter Stan Shunpike During the Battle of the Seven Potters.[2]
Hermione Granger Mundungus Fletcher Before the Infiltration of the Ministry of Magic.[2]
Ron Weasley A Snatcher Later passed the Snatcher's blackthorn wand to Harry Potter.[2]
Harry Potter Hermione Granger Practising with the Snatcher's wand; unsuccessful.[2]
Ron Weasley Bellatrix Lestrange During the Battle of Malfoy Manor.[2]
Harry Potter Gregory Goyle In the Room of Requirement during the Battle of Hogwarts.[2]
Harry Potter Lord Voldemort During the Battle of Hogwarts; because of Harry's mastery of the Elder Wand, Voldemort's Killing Curse backfired and killed him.[2]

Known practitioners


Harry casting Expelliarmus during Priori Incantatem.


The former half of the word "expelli-" bears resemblance to the Latin "expello" meaning "I drive away, eject or expel" or " to remove or repudiate" (though it may simply derive from the English "I expel" also). The latter half "-armus" is derived from "arma", a Latin word meaning "weapon" where the English word "army" comes from. Therefore, "Expelliarmus" mean "I remove your weapon [from your hand].

Behind the scenes

  • In the Doctor Who episode 'The Shakespeare Code', the spell is mentioned in connection to the Harry Potter books, with the Doctor stating "good ol' JK" after Shakespeare uses the word Expelliarmus to conclude a 'magical' formula to banish the episode's villans, the Carrionites, from Earth.
  • Expelliarmus has a surprising (possibly the highest) number of conflicting portrayals across the Harry Potter video game adaptations. In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Expelliarmus conjures a shield, identical in its effects to the books' Protego (used to repel the opponent's attacks), and does not physically "disarm" the opponent at all, though it is still called the "Disarming Charm". In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Expelliarmus was used to finish (disarm) opponents. It doesn't appear in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, and in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire it is only seen in a cutscene and as part of Priori Incantatem. In the Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince video game, it appears as a projectile cloud of blue and violet energy which blasts the victim off their feet, but does not send their wand flying. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 it acts somewhat like Stupefy, knocking the foe to the ground with a burst of golden light for a short period of time. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, it does not inflict damage (unlike in Part 1), but it breaks an enemy's Protego.
  • In the film series, Expelliarmus is used many times. Snape uses it first in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in the Duelling Club, blasting Gilderoy Lockhart through the air without actually disarming him which appears as a light golden light. In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, it regains its official effects, used many times to simply knock the wand from the target's hand which is a blue light that does not physically assaulting the target, except for when used by Harry against Snape, though this could be attributed to Harry using Hermione's wand at the time, an act which can have unpredictable effects for any wizard.
  • Upon meeting with Severus Snape, Albus Dumbledore used a possible variation of the Disarming Charm, which seemed to be a much faster version of the charm.
  • In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the text incorrectly uses the word Disarmed with a capital 'D' in referring to Ron's non-magical grappling of Peter Pettigrew's wand from the latter's grasp at Malfoy Manor: The silver tool that Voldemort had given his most cowardly servant had turned upon its Disarmed and useless owner... (chapter 23). Like other spells and incantations, Disarming is normally capitalised in the books. This error possibly occurred as a result of over-enthusiastic application of this style by the author or publisher during the copy-editing process.
  • Though no mention of a particular hand motion is mentioned in the books, in the films, the caster often twirls his or her wand in a tight spiral motion.
  • A spellbook for this spell could be found behind a portait in Hogwarts.
  • According to Pottermore, the hand motion is thus:
    In Wonderbook, the hand movement is a sharp slash to the right.


Notes and references

The Standard Book of Spells
Grade 1 · Grade 2 · Grade 3 · Grade 4 · Grade 5 · Grade 6
Charms included in the series: Fire-Making Spell · Levitation Charm · Locking Spell · Mending Charm · Softening Charm · Severing Charm · Unlocking Charm · Dancing Feet Spell · Disarming Charm · Engorgement Charm · Freezing Charm · General Counter-Spell · Memory Charm · Tickling Charm · Summoning Charm · Banishing Charm · Substantive Charm

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