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Dissendium (dis-EN-dee-um) is a charm that brings things down to the ground. For example, you could bring down a ladder from an attic

Known practitioners


Dissendium is a curious incantation with an shadowy etymology. At first it seems to be a phonetic spelling of the English word "descend" with a common Latin noun ending attached (-ium), however, this is not consistent with its known spell effects. It is also vaguely reminiscent of the word "dissident", meaning to be against the laws.

The whole word could be derived from the English "Dissemble" which means "to conceal, to disguise the true nature or motives of"[4]. This would seem off at first (since the spell seems to do the opposite - expose) but makes more sense when one considers the secretive context in which it was being used.

It could also come from Latin in three parts: the first part: dissocio, which means to "part, separate, divide" in its verb form (just like the English verb that is derived from it - to dissociate)[5][6]; en, meaning "behold, look, here!"[5][7][8]; and Dium, which could refer to the sun (which shines light on things, exposing them; this is similar to the spell effects) and normally translates as day (or, more appropriately, today) but can also be used as the command now[5][9]. Altogether, therefore, Dissendium could hence read roughly as "part/separate here, now" or "part and behold!".

Finally, it could also be based n the Latin discessum, "departed" (being the neuter perfect passive participle of discēdō)[10]. "To depart" refers to deviation, the movement of something away from something else, including itself[11].

Behind the scenes


Harry uses Dissendium on Slytherin's locket.

  • Whilst this at first seems to be a simple magical password (like "Mimbulus Mimbletonia", once a password for the Fat Lady); and "Acid Pops", one of the passwords for Dumbledore's office gargoyle in 1996), it does appear to be an actual spell, given its representation throughout the franchise. For example, in the seventh book Ron opens the door to an attic and lowers a ladder.
  • In the first part of the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Harry Potter casts the spell 'Dissendium' in a fit of frustration at Slytherin's locket. This would make sense, considering that if it does actually cleave things (as the name and usage suggest) then this could be considered a valid way to open or even destroying the Locket (which fits with its use in that scenes alongside spells like Reducto and Expulso).


Notes and references

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