I am curious to know this. It must not have been easy. Did he use magic for this purpose?

And why did he anagram it? Just keeping a new name would have been enough. Why did he need to maintain a link between the two names?

Is such type of magic possible?

What can be the limits to such things doable by magic?


For those wondering where the clause of magic came in to make an anagram, I thought, maybe just how he waved Harry's wand to rearrange letters, at the time of making the anagram as well, he used something similar... But yes, I almost forgot about the point that Mr. Riddle must be a very genius wizard. Such things would be a very simple work for him.

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    @Simon I know all of this.. Commented Apr 28, 2014 at 10:37
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    I bet it was due to the cool factor.
    – Saturn
    Commented Apr 28, 2014 at 10:41
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    Voldemort might have relaxed with a cryptic crossword puzzle after a hard day's evil, which would give him plenty of skill at anagrams. No magic required. As for why he'd want an anagram in the first place, I imagine it was a kind of private joke. Wizards everywhere would fear and hate Lord Voldemort, without making the connection to Tom Riddle... but they could have realised, if only they were clever enough to spot the anagram. So Tom/Voldemort would have yet another reason to feel smug and superior to other wizards. Commented Apr 28, 2014 at 11:12
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    Anagrams are not difficult to find. You can find many algorithms on StackOverflow - these are meant for computer implementation, but there is nothing (besides perhaps impatience) stopping a human from following them himself with a pencil, paper and dictionary.
    – Superbest
    Commented Apr 28, 2014 at 16:37
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    It's obviously fan-work. And I didn't mean that he came up with these names, just that he may have tried different combinations until he came across one he liked. Or, he may have come up with Voldemort and then realised that "I am Lord Voldemort" is an anagram of his real name. What a coincidence! :P Commented Apr 29, 2014 at 12:54

3 Answers 3


Tom Riddle changed his named from Tom Marvolo Riddle to Lord Voldemort during his Hogwarts years; canon doesn't say exactly which year.

‘Those whom I could persuade to talk told me that Riddle was obsessed with his parentage. This is understandable, of course; he had grown up in an orphanage and naturally wished to know how he came to be there. It seems that he searched in vain for some trace of Tom Riddle Senior on the shields in the trophy room, on the lists of prefects in the old school records, even in the books of wizarding history. Finally he was forced to accept that his father had never set foot in Hogwarts. I believe that it was then that he dropped the name for ever, assumed the identity of Lord Voldemort, and began his investigations into his previously despised mother’s family – the woman whom, you will remember, he had thought could not be a witch if she had succumbed to the shameful human weakness of death.'

Half-Blood Prince - page 339 - Bloomsbury - chapter 17, A Sluggish Memory - Albus Dumbledore

Technically, I suppose he would have been between the ages of eleven, when he first learned he was a wizard, and sixteen, when he reveals I am Lord Voldemort to Harry in Chamber of Secrets, via his sixteen-year-old self's memory from the diary Horcrux:

He pulled Harry’s wand from his pocket and began to trace it through the air, writing three shimmering words:


Then he waved the wand once, and the letters of his name rearranged themselves:


‘You see?’ he whispered. ‘It was a name I was already using at Hogwarts, to my most intimate friends only, of course.'

Chamber of Secrets - page 231 - Bloomsbury - chapter 17, The Heir of Slytherin - Tom Riddle

Canon doesn't indicate that there was any magic involved in the anagram; Tom Riddle uses only letters from the name Merope Gaunt gave to him to create "Lord Voldemort". But note that he doesn't adopt the name "I am Lord Voldemort", which uses all of the letters of his full name. He adopts the name "Lord Voldemort" -- the other letters are left over. So, is "Lord Voldemort" truly an anagram in the purist sense?

  • ...truly an anagram in its purist... According to wikipedia, its a subliminal anagram. And in case of Voldy, it is a pseudonym... Commented Apr 29, 2014 at 6:25
  • Can you tell me why did he want to keep the link between his old and new identity? Why not just a new name? Commented Apr 29, 2014 at 6:27
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    @AwalGarg - Your Wiki link says In a perfect anagram, every letter must be used, with exactly the same number of occurrences as in the anagrammed word or phrase; any result that falls short is called a subliminal anagram. I noted that "subliminal anagram" had "citation needed" after it, which means it's not properly sourced yet. So I'll stick with an anagram being the "perfect" type. Pseudonym may be a better fit than subliminal anagram, actually, for "Lord Voldemort". :) Commented Apr 29, 2014 at 8:39
  • And about the link? Commented Apr 29, 2014 at 8:51
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    @AwalGarg - Well, Tom Riddle says in CoS that he's shedding his "filthy Muggle father's" name, and that he fashioned a new name for himself, a name that wizards would come to fear to even speak. However, in the same paragraph, he talks about being the Heir of Slytherin and "having Slytherin's blood running through his veins", and I deduce that by adopting the name Lord Voldemort, Tom Riddle left a hint of who he once was. Voldemort liked dropping hints -- for example the hints he dropped about his Horcruxes that only Regulus Black picked up on. :) Commented Apr 29, 2014 at 11:39

There is no reason to suppose Tom Riddle used magic to work out anagrams of his name. All he would need was time, patience and skill at word games.

It's worth mentioning that cryptic crosswords are very popular in the UK and require a great deal of skill at anagrams. They have been around since the 1920s so they would have been well known when Tom was growing up, and perhaps he enjoyed doing them after a hard day's evil.

I'm not aware of any explicit canon answers for why Tom specifically wanted an anagram. But we know that Tom was both arrogant about his abilities, and insecure about his humble origins and half-Muggle heritage.

It seems likely the anagram was a subtle challenge on Tom's part to the rest of the wizarding world. Wizards everywhere would hate and fear Lord Voldemort, without making the connection to Tom Riddle... but they could have done so, if only they were clever enough to spot the anagram. So it was a way for Tom/Voldemort to "prove" he had a superior intellect to other wizards.

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    From Philsopher’s Stone: “‘Brilliant,’ said Hermione. ‘This isn’t magic – it’s logic – a puzzle. A lot of the greatest wizards haven’t got an ounce of logic, they’d be stuck in here for ever.’” The puzzle of a cryptic crossword, or an anagram, may have been chosen to stump a lot of powerful wizards.
    – alexwlchan
    Commented Apr 28, 2014 at 12:05
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    Hannibal Lecter enjoyed testing people with anagrams too. "Your anagrams are showing, Doctor. Louis Friend? Iron sulfide, also known as fool's gold." imdb.com/title/tt0102926/quotes Commented Apr 28, 2014 at 13:12
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    Finding anagrams is even easier when you're allowed made-up words like "Voldemort". Perhaps a good thing he did, though, otherwise he might have called himself "Marmot Drool Devil" or "Armored Doll Vomit". Commented Apr 28, 2014 at 16:32
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    @NateEldredge Also, one anagram of "I'm Lord Voldemort" is "Mr Tom, dildo lover."
    – user11521
    Commented Apr 28, 2014 at 21:44
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    – user13267
    Commented Jun 6, 2014 at 15:04

There is the following interesting line from Pottermore, on the page about Owls:

The mystical association between the name and the human who bears it has long been understood by witches and wizards of all cultures.

Now, this is in the context of owls being able to find people just by knowing their names, and I'm not suggesting that Voldemort kept all the letters in his name so that the mail addressed to him wouldn't go astray. Still, there is the implication that there are further magical applications of names in magic. Perhaps, for the purposes of some spell or curse, Voldemort could not change his name entirely. Thus, he preserved the essence of his name -- the letters that formed it.

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