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Disarming Charm

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"A handy (even life-saving) spell for removing an object from an enemy's grasp."
—Description of the charm[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 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 it notably caused the death of Lord Voldemort during the Battle of Hogwarts by rebounding his Killing Curse.


"The Disarming Charm lies at the heart of a good duelling 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]
Tumblr n4pfx79HAy1qzv627o1 250

Harry casting a powerful disarming charm indicated by the scarlet jet of light

The Disarming Charm causes whatever an opponent is holding at the time — usually a wand — to fly high out of their reach.

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. Another notable effect of the charm is that if multiple charms are used on the same target, the target will be disarmed, but at the same time will be blasted backwards, as seen when Harry, Ron and Hermione all used the Disarming Spell at once on Severus Snape in the Shrieking Shack.

Priori Incantatem

Voldemort-Harry 1st duel (Concept Artwork for the HP4 film)

A powerful Priori Incantatem between Disarming Charm and Killing Curse

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, a much weaker spell than the former.

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, and the trio's last few hours before they return home for the holidays[src]
Caster(s) Date Notes
James Potter June 1976 James uses this charm to disarm Severus Snape while bullying him after an O.W.L. exam.
Albus Dumbledore Unknown Used this spell to disarm Severus Snape
Draco Malfoy 30 June, 1997

Draco used this spell to disarm Albus Dumbledore during the Battle of the Astronomy Tower before fleeing with Snape and the other Death Eaters.

September, 2020 Draco used this spell while duelling Harry Potter.[7]
Elizabeth Smudgling 1379 She used it in a duelling contest in Dartmoor.[6]
Fred Weasley June 1993 At the end of his fourth year, Fred practised this spell along with; George, Harry, Hermione, and Ron before the start of summer holiday.[8]
George Weasley June 1993 At the end of his fourth year in 1993 practised this spell along with; Fred, Harry, Hermione, and Ron before the start of summer holiday.[8]
Ginny Weasley June 1993 She used this spell at the end of her first year in 1993.[8]
Severus Snape 17 December, 1992 Snape taught this spell to the Duelling Club in the Great Hall.[1]
Tumblr n4afunNcf51qg4gkko2 250
6 June, 1994 Snape used it to disarm Sirius Black in the Shrieking Shack during the events of 6 June.
Harry Potter 1993 Harry used it to get Tom Riddle's Diary back from Malfoy who mistook it for Harry's own diary.
Harry used it again at the end of the year before summer holiday.[9]
6 June, 1994 In his third year he used it against Snape inside the Shrieking Shack.
24 June, 1995 Harry used this spell while duelling Voldemort in Little Hangleton, which resulted in Priori Incantatem.
October 1995 In his fifth year this is one of the spells Harry taught Dumbledore's Army he had them practise it in pairs.
Tumblr n6unbjelLi1r5w42zo4 250
18 June, 1996 During the Battle of the Department of Mysteries Harry uses this charm against Lucius Malfoy during their duel in the Death Chamber.
27 July, 1997 Harry disarmed Stan Shunpike during the Battle of the Seven Potters.
2 May, 1998 He used it against Goyle during the Skirmish in the Room of Requirement.

Harry also used it the same night to kill Voldemort by rebounding his Killing Curse.

The final duel
September, 2020 Harry used this spell while duelling Draco Malfoy in his home.[10]
Hermione Granger June 1993 She used this spell at the end of her second year along with; Fred, George, Harry, and Ron before summer holiday.[8]
6 June, 1994 In her third year she used this spell against Severus Snape in the Shrieking Shack along with Harry and Ron.
August 1997 Hermione also used this spell to disarm Mundungus Fletcher in 1998 during the hunt for Horcruxes.[11]
Download (14)
Ron Weasley June 1993 Practised this spell at the end of his second year.
6 June, 1994 Ron used it during his third to disarm Severus Snape in the Shrieking Shack.
March 1998 During the Skirmish at Malfoy Manor, Ron disarmed Bellatrix Lestrange with the spell.
Neville Longbottom 18 June, 1996 He used this spell during the Battle of the Department of Mysteries to disarm a Death Eater, accidentally also disarming Harry.
Albus Potter September, 2020 Albus used this charm twice on Delphini to practise disarming before travelling back in time.[12]
Cedric Diggory 24 June, 1995 Cedric cast this charm on Delphini while participating in the Third Task of the Triwizard Tournament.[13]


English expel, meaning "remove" and armus, derived from the dative of arma, armis means "from the arms". So Expelliarmus means "removement from the arm. "

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 unconscious.
  • 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 or flash of blue light.
  • In the video games, mainly he console versions of the first and second 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. This was mainly due to the lack of being able to disarm in past video games.
    • However, the spell returned to its more offensive use by the Order of the Phoenix game, though the GBC version of the Chamber of Secrets game also follows this scheme.
    • Also in the console version of the second game, it's possible to catch and deflect spells not only cast by prefects in the PS2 version, but it's also possible to do so on one's own backfired spell. This only works on Flipendo and Incendio however, as the other projectile spells will pass through. In the case of the former, it moves rather fast so tight timing to activate the charm is needed.
  • The Disarming Charm is referenced on Doctor Who, when Shakespeare uses it to conclude a formula used to banish the villains from earth. The Doctor (played by David Tennant) smiles after the villains are beaten and says: "Good old J.K.", referencing the author of the Harry Potter series.
  • As seen in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, it is possible to disarm and take ownership of one's wand without using the spell, as demonstrated by Harry, who forcefully disarmed Malfoy with his bare hands to take the latter's wand.
  • In the film versions of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Hermione Granger used the spell to make Mundungus Fletcher's wand fly over to her for her to catch it, which also happened when Harry Potter defeated Tom Riddle during Voldemort's Last Stand, in a similar way to the Summoning Charm. For Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the Summoning Charm is shown to be capable of summoning wands over to a user to disarm others like the Disarming Charm does, as Porpentina Goldstein used it to disarm a subdued Gellert Grindelwald, sending the wand over to her for her to catch it.


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 Cursed Child, Act Two, Scene Thirteen
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 18 (Dobby's Reward), page 250- UK edition
  9. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Chapter 13 (The Very Secret Diary) (pg. 178 UK edition)
  10. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Act Two, Scene Thirteen
  11. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Chapter 11 (The Bribe)
  12. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Act Two, Scene Four
  13. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Act Three, Scene Twenty

The Standard Book of Spells
Book of Spells 1
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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