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In Star Wars books, Darth Vader is frequently described as a "Sith Lord". So is Palpatine. So is Dooku, and Maul, and Plagueis.

But most of the time, in the period in which the movies (and most of the books) take place, there are only two Sith in existence at any given moment.

This would appear to make the honorific title "Sith Lord" mostly meaningless, because what good is it to be a lord if there is no one under you? Vader is effectively a lord of nothing and no one. Palpatine is the Emperor of the galaxy, but as a Sith Lord, he has only one subordinate (whether that subordinate is Vader, Maul, or Tyrannus) at a time (except for the period when Maul and Tyrannus both served him).

This being the case, why is Vader (or any other Sith who is subordinate to a more powerful Sith) a "Sith Lord" rather than just a "Sith"?

What, if anything, is the difference between a "Sith" and a "Sith Lord" during the period in which the movies take place, in light of the Rule of Two?

Note: For the purposes of this question, we will treat the honorific "Lord" as distinct from "Sith Lord", since everyone called Vader "Lord", but only he, Palpatine, and the Jedi knew he was a Sith. Thus, when an Imperial calls Vader "Lord", they aren't referring to his status as a Sith Lord.

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    It's possible it's simply used to measure the siths experience. Much like the Jedi Masters. – CandiedMango Jan 20 '16 at 7:27
  • @CandiedMango - But Vader was made a Sith Lord on his first day in the club. – Wad Cheber stands with Monica Jan 20 '16 at 8:48
  • Perhaps he already had enough force experience to be deemed worthy of the title? He was already a Jedi Master after all. – CandiedMango Jan 20 '16 at 8:50
  • @CandiedMango no he was never a Jedi master – user46509 Jan 20 '16 at 8:51
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    Ah my bad @ancalagon he was worthy of the title though iirc they rejected him for is angst – CandiedMango Jan 20 '16 at 8:52
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Looking around numerous sources, they all seem to answer this question the same way. Generally the Sith Lords are people who study the sith philosophy. So there isn't really a difference between "Sith" and "Sith Lord" unless you're talking about the actual race (which is EU canon):

The Sith are dedicated to sith philosophy and to mastering the dark side of the Force. The Sith members, known as Sith Lords or Dark Lords of the Sith, traditionally use the title Darth-prefix before their Sith name. Sith - Wikipedia

Sith tend to be a bit egotistic, and generally "up their own bottoms", to the point where numerous times the apprentice Sith Lord gets tired of his Master and wants it all to himself. So it doesn't really surprise me that they would call themselves "Lords" just to make their presence more important.

After the "Rule of Two", I can't seem to find any instances of someone following the ways of the Sith without the prefix "Lord", although the more studious people on this site may be kind enough to change this point if there is.

It seems that subsequent to Episode VI, the Sith ceased to exist, and new dark orders were created (or possibly just came to the fore), such as the Knights of Ren.

Kylo Ren's agenda seems to somewhat differ from Snoke's so maybe his plan is to rejuvenate the Sith order and "carry on what his grandfather started". Who knows, this is just my speculation.

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There are some different things you must carefully consider here:

  • Sith as a species (Sith pureblood from Korriban) http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Sith_(species)

  • Sith Lord as rank title , with Dark lord of the Sith being a superior rank http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Sith_Lord

  • Sith as an organization (originally The Sith Empire, later the Old Sith Empire, was a rich and powerful empire established by Dark Jedi who were banished from the Galactic Republic after their defeat at the Battle of Corbos during the Hundred-Year Darkness.)

  • Sith as alignment/ideology (i.e. the anti-jedi Force users)

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    How does this answer the question? – Mithical Jan 20 '16 at 13:58
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    OP specifically states (in large text) that he's asking for answers subsequent to the introduction of the "Rule of Two". – John Bell Jan 20 '16 at 14:37
  • I asked about the period in which the movies take place. As far as I am aware, at that point, the Sith species is extinct and the Sith organization no longer exists. This really doesn't answer the question. – Wad Cheber stands with Monica Jan 20 '16 at 22:39
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Sith are a race whils sith lords are jedi who turned to the dark side and pray sith religion. Sith race are those red and black guys and girld (darth maul) but unlikely savage opress is yellow (idk why)

  • This is mostly kinda correct. If you could provide the source for this, it would make it a much stronger answer. – amflare Nov 24 '17 at 16:39
  • I am 99% sure that Darth Maul and Savage Opress were not of the Sith race (I can't remember the name of their race but it's not 'Sith'). – F1Krazy Nov 24 '17 at 16:40
  • From wookiepedia: starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Darth_Maul: "Darth Maul is a Dathomirian Zabrak (emplasis mine). Your statement is totally wrong here, or at least addresses s a wrong species – TimSparrow Nov 24 '17 at 17:46

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