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‘Lumos’ meaning explained as Siri’s flashlight function brightens up 2022

Bruno Cooke January 3, 2022
Boy Reading Harry Potter

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Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return To Hogwarts premiered January 1 on HBO Max, gifting fans a long-awaited reunion. It’s also given iPhone users something to talk about: people have been flooding Twitter with expressions of delight after learning Siri will turn on their iPhone flashlight upon hearing “lumos”, and turn it off with “nox” – for those who don’t know, what is the meaning of the word/spell “lumos”?

‘Lumos’ meaning explained

“Lumos” is the incantation for the illumination charm in the world of Harry Potter. In other words, it’s what witches and wizards say when you want to make their wands light up.

The word “lumos” (pronunciation: LOO–moss) comes from the Latin lumen, meaning “light”. Adding the suffix “-os” to a Latin word makes it about “having”. Put together, therefore, the meaning of the incantation “lumos” is something like, “to have light”.

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Magic spell book with dust and stars

When the spell caster utters the word “lumos” in the universe of Harry Potter, the tip of their wand lights up. It’s handy in dark places, like caves or cellars, but also for looking under the sofa.

Siri’s ‘lumos’ flashlight function is taking over Twitter

Since the reunion aired on New Year’s Day, numerous social media users have expressed their delight at Siri’s “lumos” function – if you say it to her, she’ll turn on your iPhone’s flashlight. 

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Even those who aren’t familiar with Harry Potter lore are finding it exciting.

But it’s worth pointing out that Apple’s wasn’t the first OS to include the “lumos”/flashlight feature – at least, that’s what a Reddit post from 2018 suggests.

Posting a link to a screenshot posted to image-sharing site Imgur, the user claimed that saying “lumos” turned on the flashlight on Android phones long before Siri learned the function.

However, later comments indicate that the feature was discontinued. At least, those taking part in the discussion a few months later were unable to turn on their flashlights by saying “lumos” to their Android phones.

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Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts | Official Trailer | Amazon Prime

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Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts | Official Trailer | Amazon Prime
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What does ‘nox’ mean?

The meaning of the word “nox” – also a Harry Potter incantation that works with Siri to operate the flashlight – is related to the meaning of “lumos”.

“Nox” is Latin for “night”. But at the same time, in Greek mythology, Nyx is the female personification of night

Even Zeus fears the might of Nyx. She was the daughter of Chaos, and mother of several primordial powers, including Death, Old Age, the Fates, Nemesis and Sleep.

Saying “nox” to Siri will cause her to turn off your iPhone’s flashlight.

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Bruno is a novelist, amateur screenwriter and journalist with interests in digital media, storytelling, film and politics. He’s lived in France, China, Sri Lanka and the Philippines, but returned to the UK for a degree (and because of the pandemic) in 2020. His articles have appeared in Groundviews, Forge Press and The Friday Poem, and most are readable on Medium or onurbicycle.com.