Voldemort - what does the name mean?

I read somewhere that in French, it would mean “flight of death.” (Vol de mort)

It’s fictional. “I . A-M . L-O-R-D . V-O-L-D-E-M-O-R-T” is the anagram for “Tom Marvolo Riddle,” his Hogwarts identity. Cite.

The "T’’ is silent, incidentally.

OK, but Riddle was not even mentioned until Chamber of Secrets, whereas Voldemort is in the stories from the get-go. Can we be sure that Rowling didn’t just invent the name Tom Marvolo Riddle as a convenient anagram of ‘I Am Lord Voldemort’ after deciding the villain would be called Voldemort (i.e. not until writing CoS)?

(Basing my entire post on the movies, BTW, as I haven’t read the books, so there may be a modicum of egg upon my fizzog)

Well, babelfish backs you up on that one.

Mangetout. How do you like your eggs? In the series’ continuity young Tom Marvolo Riddle chooses “I Am Lord Voldemort” as an anagram of his true identity. The fact that it has also has an applicable French meaning might be happy coincidence – there’s no proof Rowling intended that, that I’m aware. Sorta like the unhappy irony of “Lorena Bobbit.”

But what evidence do you have that she invented the Riddle name before she invented “Voldemort”? Since she wrote the latter first, wouldn’t Occam’s Razor indicate that the former was derived from it, and not the other way around.

Similarly, I propose that the name “Superman” was invented before the name “Clark Kent”, and “Batman” before “Bruce Wayne”. I mean, it’s not as if they said one day: “Look, I have an idea for a comic about a guy who dresses as a bat and fights cime. His name is Bruce Wayne - what should his secret identity be?”

So you’re saying that Rowling definitely concieved Riddle before the name Voldemort? (I’m not about to argue, just wanting to be absolutely clear)

Of course not. I mean, “Marvolo?”

Alessan, Mangetout. It’s irrelevent whether it was planned that way from the very beginning. The OP asked what does Voldemort mean. According to the backstory, revealed in Chamber of Secrets, the child born Tom Marvolo Riddle created the alias “Lord Voldemort” as an anagram of his name.

I certainly don’t think Rowling intended for ‘vol de mort’ to mean, “flight of death.” Rowling insists the correct pronounciation of ‘Voldemort’ is VOL-duh-more but that no one says it that way except her. French for death is morte, with a ‘t’.

Marvolo isn’t too bad… consider “Hogwarts.”

It may be irrelevant to the OP, but it isn’t irrelevant to your first post, which could be taken to imply that Voldemort is a derivative of Riddle (i.e. in the mind of the author, rather than inside the fictional world), rather than the other way around.

However, I’ve found many google hits on French pages, which seem to use “mort” for “death”.

In French, “mort” would be pronounced “mor”. Pronouncing the name VOL-duh-more makes it MORE likely to be derived from the french Voldemort, not less.

Askia: French for death is morte, with a ‘t’.

But no final “e”, though: la mort = “death”.

In French, vol de la mort could mean “theft of death”, as well as “flight of death”. Considering that Voldemort’s obsession seems always to have been evading mortality, I think it’s reasonable to infer that Rowling devised that name for him and then came up with his “real name” , Tom Marvolo Riddle, to go along with it.

MortE is the feminine adjective (dead) : une femme morte : a dead woman

Mort is the masculine adjective (un homme mort : a dead man) and the noun (death)

In old french, the noun, being feminine, could be written “morte” : La morte d’Arthur = Arthur’s death

Vol de mort would be correctly translated as “flight of death”.

Still. The anagram isn’t wrong. it’s validated by the revelation in the plot.

Until Rowling validates it, the French translation is just a theory. Rowling’s character names usually have a lot more wordplay.

My French needs work. But I was thinking of Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur.

Oh, come on. Voldemort escapes almost certain death from a wand backfire or whatever, and his name means “flight of death” in French, and Rowling insists on pronouncing it as if it were that French phrase! What more do you want?

No one is saying that the anagram is wrong, just that it was probably thought up after the name Voldemort. Just think about how stupid the anagram is: “I am Lord Voldemort”? Come on. Obviously she had to stick the “I am” in there because she couldn’t come up with a halfway reasonable anagram of Voldemort without it.

I think it all depends on whether we’re discussing what Voldemort means in the author’s world (and ours), or the character’s world. Askia has offered the origin of Voldemort’s name within the world of Hogwart’s. Absolute is offering an interpretation of the name beyond the books (which, incidentally may offer additional insight to the books themselves). It’s like arguing whether a penny has a picture of Lincoln’s head or the Lincoln Memorial; it’s two sides of the same coin.

Note that French vol de la mort could also mean “flight from death” (that’s right, isn’t it clair?), which is an even better summary of what Voldemort’s all about. I’d be very surprised if the French meaning(s) of Voldemort’s name turned out to be just a coincidence.

Voldemort is pronounced: ‘he-who-must-not-be-named’



Considering that Rowling likes wordplay in her character names, would have learnt French at school, and speaks fluent Spanish, it would be incredible for her not to know what ‘vol de mort’ means. If you want to know what it would mean ‘to the characters,’ then at least some of them would be aware of the meaning too, as we know (or can easily find out) the meanings of such RL names as Potter, Granger, Smith, Beauchamp, Weingarten and so on.