Inquiring Minds - Voldemort

Ralph Fiennes as Lord VoldemortEvery week, librarian Judy Woodward compiles the most interesting reference questions and sends them to the Roseville Review. Here's this week's deadly question!

Q. Does the name Voldemort have a meaning? I know that “mort” means “death”, but what about the rest of it?

A. Lord Voldemort, aka He Who Should Not Be Named, is the arch Bad Guy of the Harry Potter series, but does his name have a specific meaning beyond striking fear into the hearts of readers? Well, it depends on whom you ask. According to the Harry Potter Lexicon, author J.K. Rowling says the name means “Flight from Death.” It’s true that “mort” is the French word for “death,” and “vol” can mean “flight” in French, but is that really French? It’s not obvious that the phrase ever arises except in the pages of the Harry Potter novels.

Just to complicate the issue, the word “vol” can also mean “theft” in French. Lord Voldemort---the Thief of Death? Perhaps there will be another sequel. (Nouveau Petit Larousse dictionary and online sources.)


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