Avada Kedavra is the incantation for the Killing Curse, which is one of the three Unforgivable Curses. Generally, the spell is unblockable, and causes an instant and painless death, which leaves no trace of injury or violence on the body when the curse functions correctly. Visually, the curse appears as a flash of green light.
Avada Kedavra History
The Killing Curse was created in the early Middle Ages by Dark witches and wizards. Primarily, the curse was used to quickly slay opponents during a duel. In 1707, the Wizards’ Council was restructured into the Ministry of Magic, which allowed for more strict restrictions on certain types of magic. The Killing Curse (along with the Cruciatus and Imperius Curses), are considered to be the Darkest curses created. The three Unforgivable Curses were classified as Unforgivable in 1717, with the strict penalty of a life sentence in Azkaban given to their use. From that time until the First Wizarding War, only the darkest wizards used the Unforgivable Curses. During the First Wizarding War, Bartemius Crouch Senior decided to fight the Dark wizards with their own spells and legalized the use of the Unforgivable Curses against those suspected of being Death Eaters as a tactic to win the war. Perhaps the most infamous event surrounding the Killing Curse happened on 31 October 1981, when He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named vanished after murdering Lily and James Potter, and attempting to use the Killing Curse on a small child, Harry Potter, in Godric’s Hollow. When He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named came to kill the young Potter, Lily Potter sacrificed herself to save his life, it has been speculated that this sacrifice caused a type of ancient magic shield around the young Potter and caused He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named’s spell to backfire and destroy his body, leaving only a lightning bolt shaped scar on Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived. Once He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named was presumed dead and the war ended, the legalization of the Unforgivable Curses was repealed once again. After He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named returned, he seized control of the Ministry of Magic through Pius Thicknesse on 1 August 1997 and made use of the Unforgivable Curses (by any witch or wizard) legal once more. The Unforgivable Curses were even taught at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry by the Dark Arts teacher Amycus Carrow. After the end of the Second Wizarding War, Minister for Magic Kingsley Shacklebolt once again forbade the three curses.
Avada Kedavra Etymology
The term “avada kedavra” is Aramaic and means “let the thing be destroyed.”