'Fantastic Beasts' 101: A Glossary of Magical Words, People, and Creatures From the 'Harry Potter' Spinoff

Marcus Errico
Deputy Editor, Yahoo Entertainment
Yahoo Movies

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them has plenty of elements that avid Potterheads will instantly recognize. But casual Harry Potter fans might have a tougher time keeping all the terminology straight in writer J.K. Rowling’s latest endeavor with director David Yates. Fear not! Yahoo Movies has compiled a spoiler-free lexical list to bring you up to speed on Fantastic Beasts. Feel free to print out and dazzle your No-Maj friends with your Beastly brainpower when you head to the movies this weekend.

Related: Revisiting J.K. Rowling’s Original ‘Fantastic Beasts’ Book

Auror
A holdover term from Harry Potter-dom, referring to a highly trained wizard or witch assigned to investigate magical crimes. In Fantastic Beasts, Porpentina “Tina” Goldstein (Katherine Waterston) has been demoted from Auror to desk jockey.

Billywig
These buzzy blue insects have wings attached to their heads, causing them to spin when they fly. They also have nasty stingers.

Bowtruckle
Kind of like the Baby Groots of the Potterverse, these cutesy twig-like creatures are guardians of the forest. Newt has one called Pickett with attachment issues.

Demiguise
A fantastic beast from the Far East, this silver monkey-esque marvel can turn invisible. It has an affinity for the Occamy (see below), which hail from the same region.

Erumpent
A massive beast reminiscent of a rhino, the Erumpent’s horn can pierce virtually anything while injecting an explosive fluid.

Gellert Grindelwald
In the Potterverse, Grindelwald is second only to Voldermort when it comes to practitioners of the Dark Arts. His name is mentioned throughout the original Potter saga, and he appeared onscreen in both young and old forms in Deathly Hallows, where we learn he was a former partner of Dumbledore’s but, after a falling out, was responsible for the death of Albus’s sister, Ariana. Post-Potter, Rowling has said that a young Dumbledore was attracted to Grindelwald, but the romantic affection wasn’t reciprocated. In Fantastic Beasts, set two decades after Ariana’s death, there’s an international manhunt for Grindelwald after he commits a string of vicious attacks in Europe and then disappears.

Gnarlak
This goblin gangster (voiced by Ron Perlman) runs a New York speakeasy, the Blind Pig, that serves as the hub of the underground magic scene.

Graphorn
Large, horned, purplish denizens of Britain, Newt possesses the last remaining breeding pair.

Ilvermorny
The United States-based school of witchcraft and wizardry that the magic-using natives of Fantastic Beasts claim rivals Hogwarts in prestige. Watch a video about it below:

Leda Lestrange
Seen briefly in an enchanted photo carried by Newt Scamander, this mysterious young woman (Zoë Kravitz) will presumably have a larger role in subsequent Fantastic Beasts films. While her surname is notorious in Potter lore, we do not know her exact relationship with Tom Riddle/Voldemort schoolmate Lestrange or the later Death Eaters Rabastan, Rodolphus, and Bellatrix Lestrange.

Legilimens
One who can read people’s thoughts. Porpentina’s sister Queenie (Alison Sudol) possesses this power in Fantastic Beasts.

MACUSA
Short for Magical Congress of the United States of America, this is the American equivalent of the Ministry of Magic in the Potter books/films. The body is headed by President Seraphina Picquery (Carmen Ejogo) and her Director of Magical Security, Percival Graves (Colin Farrell).

Magizoologist
One who studies magical creatures — or, if you prefer, fantastic beasts. See: Newt Scamander.

Memory Charm
The primary method employed by wizards to make sure No-Majs forget any encounters with fantastic beasts. The spell requires a wave of the wand and uttering the word “obliviate.”

Murtlap
This hairless rodent has a thorny growth on its back and packs a nasty bite.

New Salem Philanthropic Society
Also known as the Second Salemers, this anti-magic group seeks to abolish wizardry and witchcraft. The NSPS is headed by the iron-fisted Mary Lou Barebone (Samantha Morton) and her adopted children, Credence (Ezra Miller), Chastity (Jenn Murray), and Modesty (Faith Wood-Blagrove), who also run a soup kitchen for indigent kids.

Newt Scamander
The protagonist of our film, Newton Artemis Fido Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) is a graduate of Hogwarts (as a proud Hufflepuff) and is currently serving as low-level operative in the Ministry of Magic while writing his book, an encyclopedia of magical creatures.

Newt spends his holidays traveling the world tracking down (and saving) magical creatures, which is what brings him to America.

Niffler
This furry black creature is recognized for its distinctive duck-billed snout and its predilection for shiny objects.

No-Maj
The American word for Muggle, No-Maj (pronounced “no-madge”) is derived from “no magic,” as in one who cannot use magic. Aside from Newt’s new pal Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), the primary No-Majs in Fantastic Beasts are the Barebone family and newspaper magnate Henry Shaw (Jon Voight) and his two sons.

Nundu
According to Newt’s bestiary, the leopard-spotted, disease-spitting Nundu is “arguably the most dangerous in the world.”

Obscurus
This is a dark, destructive, unchecked force that emanates from a young witch or wizard who tries to suppress their magical abilities. If untreated, the Obscurus can kill its host, who is, in turn, called an Obscurial. (Fun fact: Obscurus Books also happens to be the name of the publisher of Scamander’s masterpiece, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.)

Occamy
A winged serpentine creature that hatches from eggs made of silver. The species is “choranaptyxic,” meaning it will grow or shrink to fit the available space.

Swooping Evil
One of the species in the film not included in Rowling’s original 2001 Fantastic Beasts book, this cocooned creature can, when flung like a yo-yo, unfurl into a flying reptilian. Although Newt has a good relationship with his, he notes its name comes from the fact that some have been known to suck out brains.

Thunderbird
Another specimen on screen but not in the book Fantastic Beasts, this giant eagle-like raptor (called Frank in the film), can, per Native American lore, stir raging storms when it takes flight. Rowling says in the production notes she wanted a creature that “was quintessentially American” and the screen Thunderbird was inspired in part by Dumbledore’s Phoenix.

WATCH: ‘Fantastic Beasts’ Cast Celebrate the 15-Year Anniversary of First ‘Potter’ Film: