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Draco Malfoy

What does Draco Malfoy mean?

Draco Malfoy is a character from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. He is a bully known for his arrogance and his ties to evil wizards who practice the darks arts.

image of Draco Malfoy

Where does Draco Malfoy come from?

Draco Malfoy first appears in the book Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. In the stories, he’s an arrogant bully who comes from a rich family with strong ties to the series’ villain, Voldemort. Draco Malfoy is known for his belief in the superiority of “pureblood” wizards, that is, wizards who have no muggle, or non-wizard, ancestry. In the Harry Potter films, he’s played by Tom Felton.

His very name underscores his nasty personality. His first name comes from the constellation Draco, which means “dragon.” His surname is related to the French words mal (“bad”) and foi (“faith), hence “bad faith.”

A few things to note…

Draco Malfoy is also known for his appearance. His white-blond hair and pale, bony face give him a distinctive look that people often use as a point of comparison. For instance, when CNN created a discussion board of first-time voters in 2016 to discuss the upcoming American presidential election, panel member Tom Crean drew pointed comparisons to Draco Malfoy.

Draco Malfoy gave his name to the fandom trope Draco in Leather Pants. This is a form of mischaracterization where a writer is perceived to downplay the flaws of villainous or morally ambiguous character or make them more sympathetic in a way that’s inconsistent with the original. The name comes from Harry Potter fanfiction, where Draco Malfoy fans sometimes depicted the character in a more positive light.

The Draco in Leather Pants trope highlights another important aspect of Draco Malfoy’s character: the controversy that surrounds his moral alignment. He’s unquestionably arrogant and serves as a negative foil to the hero, Harry Potter. His family is also associated with the main villain of the series. Yet some analyses maintain that he’s more misunderstood than villainous.

The author’s own position on this question has been ambiguous. Rowling has variously claimed that “Draco was not concealing a heart of gold under all that sneering and prejudice” and that there is “some unextinguished good at the heart of Draco,” who “learns from his mistakes.”

For example…

“This week, the Irish Independent published a fawning interview they conducted with Eric Trump—that's the one who looks like Draco Malfoy, not the one who looks like an American Psycho Halloween costume—during his recent visit to a family-owned golf resort in Ireland.”

Jay Willis, “Eric Trump Sounds Exactly Like the Vapid, Naïve Oaf You Imagined He Was,” GQ (April 17, 2017)

“Since when is Draco Malfoy representing Ukraine in the #munusaldisec??”

MUNUSAL's The Globe 2017 Facebook (April 18, 2017)

“ok but why does Joffrey look like Draco Malfoy but on crack”

Sarah Habbas @sara2h Twitter (April 8, 2017)

This is not a formal definition of Draco Malfoy like most terms we define on Dictionary.com, but is rather an informal word summary that touches upon the key aspects of the meaning and usage of Draco Malfoy that will help you expand your word mastery.