Wizarding Culture

Fear of a Name


When Hagrid initially explains to Harry about his parents' killer and the reason for his fame in the Wizarding World, he struggles to say the name "Voldemort" aloud.  Because the name is so widely feared and dreaded, few witches and wizards who understood its legacy would speak it--noteworthy exceptions being Dumbledore and (openly, once given Dumbledore's permission at this moment) Harry.  Saying "Voldemort" became an awe-inspiring, almost political statement.  Voldemort's followers refer to him more reverently as "My Lord," "Master," or "The Dark Lord," while most who fear him called him "You-Know-Who" or (the wordier, arguably more polite) "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named."

While those who fear the name shudder any time Harry says it in their presence, saying the name also affords him respect.  Voldemort places a Taboo on the name shortly after Dumbledore's death.

Notably, acromantulas also fearfully refuse to speak the name "basilisk," which results in Harry and Ron's continued puzzlement regarding the source of the petrified students after their encounter in the Forbidden Forest and prior to finding Hermione's note in the hospital wing.

For more thoughts pertaining to this quote, read the essay, "Fear of a Name."


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Tags: anxiety censorship fear names power repression