Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter/Magic/Avada Kedavra

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Muggles' Guide to Harry Potter - Magic
Avada Kedavra
Type Spell (Curse)
Features Kills instantly
First Appearance Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (though not identified until Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire)


Avada Kedavra, also known as the Killing Curse, kills a person instantaneously and without injury. There is no countercurse for it, and only one person, Harry Potter, has ever survived it.

Extended Description[edit]

Beginner warning: Details follow which you may not wish to read at your current level.

The Avada Kedavra curse is recognizable by the flash of green light and the rushing noise emitted from the caster's wand. Along with the Cruciatus Curse and the Imperius Curse, Avada Kedavra is considered to be one of the most terrible curses in the magical world, called the Unforgivable Curses; the use of any of the three on another witch or wizard is punishable by a life sentence in Azkaban. Avada Kedavra is an Aramaic phrase that means "I will destroy as I speak." Whether the words were chosen to be similar to the Muggle mock incantation "abra cadabra" is uncertain, but seems likely. It is also known by most wizards as Lord Voldemort's signature curse.

The Killing Curse is used numerous times by "evil" wizards, and very occasionally by "good" wizards:


While it is not actually stated, the "green light" that Harry remembers in his earliest memories, and which is mentioned in the first three books, is almost certainly from Voldemort's failed attempt to use the Avada Kedavra curse against Harry. In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, we see in Voldemort's memory that he used it against Harry's father, mother, and finally against Harry himself.

In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, we are told that when Barty Crouch was the head of the Auror department, Aurors were authorized to use deadly force against Death Eaters. One must assume that this occasionally took the form of the Avada Kedavra curse.


Study questions are meant to be left for each student to answer; please don't answer them here.

  1. How did Harry Potter alone survive the Avada Kedavra?
  2. Did Lord Voldemort survive the curse when it backfired on him, and what state of life did he come into if he did?

Greater Picture[edit]

Intermediate warning: Details follow which you may not wish to read at your current level.

It is perhaps important that Harry never uses this curse himself, despite using the other two Unforgivable Curses. Voldemort's demise is caused by his own use of the curse against Harry, and the rebound of that curse.