The Great Hall rang with applause as the Sorting Hat finished. "That's not the song it sang when it Sorted us," said Harry, clapping along with everyone else. (p.178)

Harry looked away, staring very hard at the Sorting Hat, now Sorting Emma Dobbs. (p.179)

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

In Harry Potter, there's this Sorting Hat that determines which of the four school Houses each new student belongs most to.

I understand why the Sorting Hat is capitalized, since it's a proper noun which is a creation of the author (just like how Muggles or Quidditch is capitalized.)

But why does this verb, sort, which is used as the exact same meaning as we all know(it doesn't have any special meaning other than the dictionary definition), written in capital letters? I brought only two examples, but in Harry Potter, the Sorting Hat's sortings are all written in capital letters.

Why is that? What is this? I know this is not an important question but I'm just curious..

  • 2
    The Science Fiction and Fantasy Stack Exchange is more likely to give good answers to this question.
    – Jasper
    Commented Feb 6, 2018 at 15:39
  • 1
    @Jasper Actually I think your answer covers the language aspect quite nicely. When we capitalize ordinary words like "sort" or "force", it imbues them with special meaning, e.g. "the Force".
    – Andrew
    Commented Feb 6, 2018 at 16:38

1 Answer 1


A few hundred years ago, many English words were routinely capitalized.

Now, we mostly use capitalization to indicate a few things:

  • References to "God", "Jesus", or the "Holy Spirit" (even when referenced using pronouns such as "He")
  • The first letter of a sentence, question, or exclamation.
  • Proper nouns (such as the names of people, countries, rivers, mountains, corporations, and product brands)
  • A few lingering examples from when many words were routinely capitalized.

Consistently capitalizing "Sort" and "Sorting" therefore has a few connotations:

  • Sorting is special. (As eques points out, it implies "a distinction between ordinary sorting" "and the specific act done by the Sorting Hat.")
  • Sorting is very important.
  • Sorting is an ancient ritual.
  • Sorting has similarities to a significant religious event, such as First Communion.
  • Hogwarts is weird. (Nobody in mundane life capitalizes "Sorting".)
  • 5
    mostly as an extension, I'd suggest that capitalizing Sorting means to draw a distinction between ordinary sorting (normal case) and the specific act done by the Sorting Hat
    – eques
    Commented Feb 6, 2018 at 16:32
  • 1
    In fact, most if not all magic-specific actions related to named things like Sorting, the Imperius Curse, even Disarming Charm retain capitalization when converted to verbs. Example: "“I saw Stan Shunpike...You know, the bloke who was the conductor on the Knight Bus? And I tried to Disarm him instead of - well, he doesn’t know what he’s doing, does he? He must be Imperiused!”"
    – Ruslan
    Commented Jan 8, 2020 at 18:20
  • @Ruslan -- Your comment could be the core of a good answer.
    – Jasper
    Commented Jan 9, 2020 at 6:16

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