"I don't expect you will really understand the beauty of the softly simmering cauldron with its shimmering fumes, the delicate power of liquids that creep through human veins, bewitching the mind, ensnaring the senses...I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, even stopper death -- if you aren't as big a bunch of dunderheads as I usually have to teach."
-- Severus Snape (PS8)
Potions are magical liquids created by mixing various ingredients in a cauldron according to very specific rules. These mixtures must usually be drunk to give their magical effect. The ingredients in potions range from the mundane to the bizarre and fantastic, and the procedures for creating some potions can be complicated and time-consuming.
- Potion-making is a "subtle science and exact art" according to Snape (PS8)
- Wizards who are adept at making potions are called Potioneers or Potions Masters; Horace Slughorn mentioned the Most Extraordinary Society of Potioneers founded by Hector Dagworth-Granger -- no relation to Hermione (HBP9)
- Wands are important to add the magical element to a potion and raise them above a Muggle tonic, although "foolish wand waving" is useless (PS8, Pm)
- Potions are the basis for magical medicine and healing in the Hogwarts Hospital Wing as well at at St. Mungo's Hospital
- The inventor of Skele-Gro and the Pepperup Potion was Linfred of Stinchcombe, an ancestor of Harry Potter (Pm)
- Potioneer Quintia McQuoid died in 1407 from a bad batch of Cure for Ague Potion, and ever since the Wizarding Schools Potions Championship has been held in her honor (BoP)
c. 1300, pocioun "medicinal drink," from Old French pocion "potion, draught, medicine" (12c.), from Latin potionem (nominative potio) "a potion, a drinking,"
This branch of magic carries a certain mystique and therefore status. There is also the dark cachet of handling substances that are highly dangerous. The popular idea of a Potions expert within the wizarding community is of a brooding, slow-burning personality: Snape, in fact, conforms perfectly to the stereotype.
-- J.K. Rowling (Pm)