What’s in a name?

Random thought of the day: Voldemort was really obsessed with his name.

Okay, think about it.  He is born Tom Marvolo Riddle.  During school, he takes the name Lord Voldemort and gets annoyed when people call him Tom (i.e. at Dumbledore).  At the height of his powers, his followers don’t like calling him Voldemort. Instead, they refer to him as “the Dark Lord.”  Everyone else fears the name Voldemort and calls him “You Know Who” or “He Who Must Not Be Named.  It’s just weird to create a new persona and then make everyone afraid to use it.

There are several name tropes tied to Voldemort:

  • I Have Many Names – That’s what happens when you keep changing your name.
  • Meaningful Name – vol de mort = flight from death.  This is probably not picked up in-universe as it makes him sound cowardly.
  • Meaningful Rename – Interesting that instead of purging his old name entirely, Voldemort keeps a connection through the anagram.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast – Though this is more to do with him giving the name its reputation rather than the other way around.
  • Speak of the Devil – Everyone fears/respects his alias and uses a different title.

If Dumbledore really wanted people to stop fearing Voldemort (and, you know, help resist him and not collaborate with him), some psychological warfare would have been to have everyone call him “Tom.”  Tom is not a very scary name.  At the same time, you publish that he’s a half-blood and anything else that undermines his reputation and/or public fear of him.


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