Multiple times in the early series Hermione and other muggle-borns refer to Voldemort as you-know-who. Why would they be scared of saying the name? They didn't grow up with the fear, and Voldemort seemed to have been gone.

  • 6
    The whole notion of someone being so scary you're scared to say their name is nonsense to begin with—just think of real-life counterparts like Hitler, whom everybody named quite freely. But in the case of Muggle-borns, they didn't grow up with the fear, but also not with the name. So to them, You-Know-Who is about as familiar and instinctive as Voldemort. It's really the older generation of wizards/witches that puzzle me. (His name isn't Voledmort, by the way; I've edited your question to fix that.) Mar 27, 2016 at 8:53
  • 11
    I think they do it out of respect for a new and different culture. You arrive in another place and someone says, "We do this here," you generally just, well, do it.
    – ThruGog
    Mar 27, 2016 at 10:24
  • 1
    And of course there's the Taboo thing, but I don't think that's what you're asking as much as "Why should Muggle-borns be bothered?"
    – ThruGog
    Mar 27, 2016 at 10:25
  • 5
    Hermione arrives on the train to Hogwarts knowing an awful lot about the magical world already, having (in a classic-Hermione way) read up about it. Perhaps she had read up about Voldemort as well? Mar 27, 2016 at 11:10
  • 3
    Additionally to the tradition of not mentioning the name of the Devil lest you draw his attention (As mentioned by Nij) there is the magical belief that if you speak the name of a wizard or witch, they become aware of you. True names (and magical names) have power, but the sympathetic link works both ways and good or bad luck might rub off - Voldemort is 'You-Know-Who' and Harry is 'The Boy who lived.' 'Name of a Name' is a traditional occult oath to invoke the power of something without drawing its attention. From Quabbalistic tradition about the names of G-d. Mar 27, 2016 at 13:22

2 Answers 2


Muggle borns get to know about Voldemort from other wizarding families and whose response would be same like Ron who don't call Voldemort by his name,

“…and until Hagrid told me, I didn’t know anything about being a wizard or about my parents or Voldemort —”

Ron gasped.

“What?” said Harry.

“You said You-Know-Who’s name!” said Ron, sounding both shocked and impressed.

- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

So, even the muggle borns don't tend to call him Voldemort when everyone just uses You-know-who, and if someone unintentionally uses the name, the response varies.

“Snape wants the stone for Voldemort…and Voldemort’s waiting in the forest…and all this time we thought Snape just wanted to get rich….”

“Stop saying the name!” said Ron in a terrified whisper, as if he thought Voldemort could hear them.

-Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Many muggle borns in a way to learn the wizarding manners think calling Voldemort as You-Know-Who is a part of it,

He [Harry] was starting to get a prickle of fear every time You-Know-Who was mentioned. He supposed this was all part of entering the magical world, but it had been a lot more comfortable saying “Voldemort” without worrying.

-Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

  • 3
    What is Sorcerer's stone? Mar 27, 2016 at 15:51
  • 8
    @Bellerephon The "Philosopher's Stone". It was published as "Sorcerer's Stone" in the US
    – Lumos
    Mar 27, 2016 at 16:21

Consider a similar superstition from the Middle Ages, from which we get the expression "speak of the devil and he shall come". There's no reason a similar principle could not potentially operate in the magic of this fictional world. Hermione, Harry and Ron's generation are the first to grow up outside the reign of Voldemort - so obviously their parents, extended family, wizarding community - every role model and teacher they have, did grow up in it. That's a lot of visceral fear and ingrained habit to disappear, which obviously hadn't by the time we are introduced to the story.

  • 4
    how is that visceral fear ingrained into Hermione? She most likely never heard of Voldemort until she was introduced into wizarding world, just like Harry
    – user13267
    Mar 27, 2016 at 10:13
  • 1
    Whenever I hear that expression nowadays, I hear it in the voice of Bane from The Dark Knight Rises :-) Mar 27, 2016 at 11:41
  • 2
    Ahem. "... visceral fear and ingrained habit...". Clearly she could have picked up the latter, as a latecomer to the community and someone who wants 1. to know as much as possible, 2. to be included, it's entirely reasonable for her to use the phrase instead of the name when discussing Voldemort.
    – Nij
    Mar 27, 2016 at 12:48
  • Despite very lax induction standards it's conceivable that Hogwarts would have some kind of Welcome Pack or Open day to induct muggle-born into the wizarding world. Ron wouldn't need that, Hermionie would and Harry (as a child of wizards) wouldn't, plus his unorthodox adoption into the wizarding world. Was Hagrid afraid of saying Voldemort's name? He was Harry's introduction. Hermione would have done her research - hadn't she read Hogwarts: A History before even getting on the train? She's just being culturally sensitive. Mar 27, 2016 at 13:13
  • 1
    Even though she was muggle-born, Hermoine was very well read in the subject of magic. It could just be that she picked up the fear from all of the books she had read. Mar 27, 2016 at 23:30

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.