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In Harry's second year, Ginny Weasley wrote him a particularly horrible poem. That in itself isn't surprising, since she was infatuated with him.

His eyes are as green as a fresh pickled toad
His hair is as dark as a blackboard
I wish he was mine, he's really divine
The hero who conquered the Dark Lord

(Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, page 238)

Why does Ginny call Lord Voldemort the Dark Lord? Only the Death Eaters and his other supporters would call him that. People who are against him call him You-Know-Who, or He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, except the few who dare to speak his name.

Ginny was being possessed by Tom Riddle through the diary, but would he really change the way she would refer to him? He told Harry that he was sick of having to listen to Ginny. He obviously wasn't interested in her life, he just needed someone vulnerable enough to do his bidding. I don't think Tom Riddle would want to pay attention to what she's doing any more than he has to, or that he'd care enough about a silly little love poem enough to change the wording of it to use his preferred title. When he's not trying to possess her and she isn't writing in the diary, presumably he'd leave her to live her Harry-obsession filled life by herself, not concerning himself with it further.

The other things about the poem, like the overly fawning tone and the unfortunate nature of comparing Harry's eyes to pickled toads and his hair to a blackboard, are easily explained by her being a young infatuated schoolgirl. So why does she call Lord Voldemort "the Dark Lord" when it's a term of respect for him only used by his supporters? Ginny usually calls him You-Know-Who, which is a common way for average wizards to refer to him. Also, "You-Know-Who" has the same number of syllables as "the Dark Lord", and is easy to rhyme with. Both terms are equally as easy to write into a poem.

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    I think it's pretty common in poetry (especially bad poetry) to come up with a line, then do whatever you need to to find something that rhymes with it. Excessive use of synonyms is a natural side-effect. – DaaaahWhoosh Apr 5 '17 at 17:13
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    She's a secret Death Eater, sent to keep Harry Potter busy and unfocused. – Petersaber Apr 5 '17 at 17:18
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    But to Ginny, the Dark Lord wouldn't be a synonym for Lord Voldemort. I doubt she would even know that term for him. No one around her supports him, so it's not likely that she would have already learned it from someone who does. She was also very young, so it's unlikely that anyone would been discussing him much in front of her. On the rare occasion that they did, they would be calling him either You-Know-Who or He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, and would probably not have told her the name his supporters call him. – Bellatrix Apr 5 '17 at 17:46
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    @Petersaber - She failed spectacularly then. Not only did she not stop him from killing Voldemort, but she carried on sleeping with him afterwards. Worst double-agent ever. – Valorum Apr 5 '17 at 18:02
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    @Valorum If Ginny was a double agent, the Dark Lord would be incredibly displeased with her. Failure in the mission, then marrying the enemy? She'd be better as target practice for the Cruciatus Curse! – Bellatrix Apr 5 '17 at 18:43
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Because it rhymes with "blackboard", something that is the same luminosity as Harry's hair.

While "the Dark Lord" is the term favored by Voldy's followers, it isn't unique to them. It's a pretty obvious portmanteau of "Dark Wizard" and "Lord Voldemort". The first time that Harry hears the term is from Dobby and he has no more trouble figuring out who Dobby is referring to than the reader does.

Ginny may have heard the term from her conversations with Tom Riddle, but may have also coined it herself. Either way, she would have had no reason to think that it was an 'evil' way to refer to Voldemort.

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In-universe, maybe Ginny made up a name for him without realizing its normal use.

Calling Lord Voldemort the Dark Lord is the Death Eaters' term of respect for him. It's not something said by people who oppose him. However, Ginny would most likely not know that. She is young, and would not know much about him or the Death Eaters.

In her love poem, she is saying a lot of things that she likely made up herself. She's comparing Harry's eyes to toads and his hair to a blackboard, and I doubt that even in the wizarding world, those are common idioms or that she's heard anyone else using those analogies.

So it's possible she made up her own way of referring to Lord Voldemort, and it's just a coincidence that it happened to be the name that the Death Eaters call him by. She wouldn't have thought twice about using the term she made up, because she wouldn't realize its usual significance.

(Although he wasn't lovestruck and writing a poem at the time, this may be the case for why Ernie Macmillan called Lord Voldemort the Dark Lord as well.)

Out-of-universe, it could be a continuity error.

When commenting on the question, ibid pointed out something interesting. Also in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Ernie Macmillan called Lord Voldemort the Dark Lord as well.

(Dobby calling him the Dark Lord makes sense. Up until Harry freed him, he was the house elf to the Malfoys. Lucius was a Death Eater, so he would call Lord Voldemort the Dark Lord, and so would all the other people frequently around him. Dobby would have learned the term from them, and called Lord Voldemort the only name he knew for him, despite his opinions on the Dark Lord being different from the Malfoys'.)

My theory is that when this book was written, Rowling hadn't yet decided that she wanted the Death Eaters to call him the Dark Lord, and was just using it as a general term. Later, when both Lord Voldemort and the Death Eaters were a bigger part of the story, she decided to make "the Dark Lord" be the term of respect that the Death Eaters used for their master.

I'm fairly sure that after the Death Eaters become a large part of the story, they and the people around them or controlled by them are the only ones to call him the Dark Lord. Snape doesn't count, because he was pretending to be one, so would have to use the same name they would.

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    Another point worth noting (as I mentioned in my answer), is that Ginny has been "conversing" with Tom Diary Riddle, a person who used "the Dark Lord" to refer to Voldemort. That's possibly where she picked up the usage, just assuming it was a regular synonym to refer to Voldemort. – ibid Apr 5 '17 at 23:51
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    @ibid Yes, she could have gotten it from Tom if she mentioned Lord Voldemort to him. That's plausible enough, seeing that she was infatuated with Harry, and the reason he was famous to begin with was that he defeated Lord Voldemort. Tom would have had to play along, despite probably being livid that this girl was so obsessed with the boy who defeated him. But when he had to respond, Tom could have still called Lord Voldemort the Dark Lord with the presumption that she wouldn't know it's anything out of the ordinary to call him that. – Bellatrix Apr 6 '17 at 0:44
  • Riddle's up-to-date knowledge heavily implies that Ginny had been discussing it with him at some point. – ibid Apr 6 '17 at 0:56
  • Dark Lord is most likely a general term for Voldemort (although less frequently used) just like he who must not be named was. Trelawny calls him the The Dark Lord while in the prophecy trance, and I don't think Trelawny is a Death Eater – user13267 Aug 10 '17 at 5:23
  • Ollivander also calls him the Dark Lord. – Alex Jul 3 '18 at 1:50

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