Inquiring minds: Does the name Voldemort have a meaning?

Each week the staff at the Roseville Library answers more than 2,500 questions on every subject under the sun. Here are some of the most interesting ones they’ve gotten lately.

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 online 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.)

Do you have a question for the staff at the Roseville Library? You can call them at 628-6803 or ask your question in person at the Information Desk, Roseville Library, 2180 Hamline Ave. Library hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday; and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

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