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Disarming Charm

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DH - Voldemort VS. Harry Final Duel 02
Disarming Charm




Hand Movement





Disarms an opponent[2]


Elizabeth Smudgling (c.1379)[3]

"The Disarming Charm lies at the heart of a good dueling technique. It allows the duelist to rebound an opponent's spell in the hope that the rebounded spell will strike the opponent and leave him or her vulnerable to further attack."
Miranda Goshawk[src]

The Disarming Charm,[1] also known as the Expelliarmus Spell[4] or Disarming Spell[5] (Expelliarmus) was a defensive charm which forced the victim to release whatever they were holding at the time. It is common to see this spell used in duels, to make an opponent release their wand.[1] It can also be used to rebound an wizard's spell in the hopes of striking the opponent with said rebounded spell.


It is not known precisely who created the Disarming Charm. Some wizarding historians claim that it may have been invented by Merlin himself, others claim that its first widespread use was in Madagascar in the 11th century.[6] Even if any of this is true, the fact remains that it was not very popular until 1379, when Elizabeth Smudgling — the most likely inventor in the opinion of Miranda Goshawk — used it in a duelling contest in Dartmoor.[6] It became Harry Potter's signature spell and he notably used it to kill Lord Voldemort during the Battle of Hogwarts by rebounding his Killing Curse.

Known uses and practitioners

"They made the most of the last few hours in which they were allowed to do magic before the holidays...and practised disarming each other by magic. Harry was getting very good at it."
Fred, George, Harry, Hermione and Ron's last few hours before they return home for the holidays[src]
Severus Snape using Expelliarmus
DumbledorefanAdded by Dumbledorefan

Other practitioners

  • Many other duelists


Tumblr lvfrlyEJDB1qf2ap3o2 r2 250
Harry casting a powerful disarming charm indicated by the scarlet jet of light

The Disarming Charm always appears as a jet of red light; indeed, this is one of the things that makes it recognisable before the effects of the charm are seen. However the intensity of the light appears to correspond to the strength of the spell as a weak/moderate one creates a small flash of white light whereas a more powerful version manifests as a bright jet of scarlet light.


The Disarming Charm causes whatever an opponent is holding at the time - usually a wand - to fly high out of their reach; and can also be used to block and rebound spells, however, more enthusiastic casts can result in the victim of the charm being knocked unconscious in a similar manner to the Stunning Spell. If done too weakly, however, it will merely blow them back a few paces, or make their hair stand on end. On account of this one could describe it as among the most versatile of spells as Remus Lupin was able to disarm multiple opponents with a single spell whilst Cedric Diggory was able to knock Krum unconscious.

If one mispronounces the spell's incantation, dependent on how it was mispronounced, another effect may take place. When Cho first mispronounced it as Expelliarmious, seemingly nothing happened; when she uttered Expellimellius, she set her friend Marietta Edgecombe's sleeves aflame.

Priori Incantatem

Voldemort-Harry 1st duel (Concept Artwork for the HP4 film)
A powerful Priori Incantatem between Disarming Charm (Harry Potter) and Killing Curse (Lord Voldemort).
You-Know-WhoAdded by You-Know-Who

If two wands with the same core are forced to do battle with each other, the effect is a magical connection called Priori Incantatem. When Priori Incantatem occurred between Lord Voldemort and Harry Potter, the latter was using the Disarming Charm.


English expel, meaning "remove" and Latin arma, meaning "weapon" or "the weapon".

Behind the scenes

"Then a blinding, jagged jet of white light flew through the air: Harry thought of lightning, but Snape had dropped to his knees and his wand had flown out of his hand"
—Dumbledore's use on Snape[src]
  • This is the signature spell of Harry Potter.
  • In the films only when a witch or wizard is locked in the Priori Incantatem is the spell scarlet. When not locked in combat it's always just a blue or white flash that will either connect with the target's hand and force the wand out of their hand or will blast them off their feet, sometimes unconcious.
  • When Dumbledore used this on Snape, it appeared as white lightning, and hence was probably a variation of it rather than the spell itself, or else an entirely different disarming spell.
  • The charm is described in The Standard Book of Spells, Grade 2, and has a spellbook purely for itself.
  • In the second film, it appears as a golden ring; from the fifth film onward it was a ball of blue light.
  • In the video games, the Disarming Charm worked rather like a Shield Charm, rebounding an opponent's spells upon them. This is actually also the describing of the spell in the The Standard Book of Spells series.
  • The Disarming Charm is referenced on Doctor Who, when Shakespeare uses it to conclude a formula used to banish the villains from earth.


Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Chapter 11 - The Duelling Club) (pg. 142 UK edition)
  2. Pottermore
  3. Wonderbook: Book of Spells
  4. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (video game)
  5. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (video game)
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Wonderbook: Book of Spells (See this video) (00:20 - 15:20)
  7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Chapter 33 - The Prince's Tale) (pg. 543 UK edition)
  8. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Chapter 27 - The Lightning Struck Tower) (pg. 584 US edition)
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Chapter 18 - Dobby's Reward) (pg. 250 UK edition)
  10. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Chapter 13 - The Very Secret Diary) (pg. 178 UK edition)
  11. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Chapter 11 (The Bribe)

The Standard Book of Spells
Books: The Standard Book of Spells, Grade 1 · The Standard Book of Spells, Grade 2 · The Standard Book of Spells, Grade 3 · The Standard Book of Spells, Grade 4 · The Standard Book of Spells, Grade 5 · The Standard Book of Spells, 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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