Us Muggles have no fear of the word “Voldemort”. After all, he’s a character in a book. He can do no more harm to us than a pygmy puff. But for wizards and witches, he is “You-Know-Who” or “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named” – unless you’re Harry and Dumbledore, walking around, blurting out the word “Voldemort”, much to the shock of everyone around you.
We’ve always assumed the Dark Lord’s name was never mentioned for fear of all the horrid things he did and the associations it conjured. But what if there was more to it?
Redditor caspirinha has taken up the case, suggesting that a “taboo” existed on the word Voldemort during the first wizarding war, back when Harry was a baby.
Confused? Let’s backtrack a little. You may recall in the Deathly Hallows when Voldemort tracked down his enemies by their use of his name – a spell known as a taboo. It’s how the Death Eaters traced Harry, Ron and Hermione to that cafe in Tottenham Court Road. It’s common knowledge that the taboo was used in the second wizarding war but Rowling has never confirmed its use in the first.
In their post, caspirinha speculates that “the same system was in place before You-Know-Who was defeated for the first time… I theorise that while he was terrorising the world he put a taboo on his own name, and he or the Death Eaters were able to find anyone who mentioned it and kill or torture them. It explains how there is such a fear of his name ingrained in all the wizards; even long after he is defeated, wizards and witches are still terrified to mention the name ‘Voldemort’ because of what would have happened to you when you triggered the tabboo while he was all powerful.”
But what about Dumbledore, you ask. He’s never shirked from saying Voldemort’s name out loud. casprinha’s thought of that, too: “It shows why Dumbledore was the only one who dared to speak his name, since he was the one wizard that Voldemort feared.”