When Anakin turned to the Dark Side Darth Sidious obviously saw fit to give him a new name:

PALPATINE: Henceforth you shall be known as Darth...Vader.

ANAKIN: Thank you, my master.

I've seen the question that's already been asked about the out-of-universe reason why George Lucas landed on the name Vader. I'm interested in whether there's an in-universe explanation for why Palpatine decided to call him what he did.

Was it just a random name plucked out of thin air? Did Palpatine pick it because he knew that Padmé was shortly due to give birth? Is there any preexisting connection between the name 'Vader' and the Dark Side of the Force?

  • 18
    He had to think of a negative word beginning with "in" -- so he could then remove the "in" from it.
    – user40790
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 16:45
  • 17
    Are you picking a name for your apprentice?
    – void_ptr
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 16:50
  • 35
    @Valorum - Vader = father. To mock Anakin for being of questionable parentage ("Your father is a midichlorian!") Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 17:52
  • 22
    @Terriblefan Now I'm imagining if he had named him Darth Credible.
    – Devsman
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 21:29
  • 13
    Because Darth Bobo does not instill fear. Commented Jan 19, 2017 at 1:44

2 Answers 2


Per the Matthew Stover novelization, the name "Vader" was plucked from the Force itself (emphasis mine):

Darth Sidious laid a pale hand on Anakin's brow. "Then it is done. You are now one with the Order of the Dark Lords of the Sith. From this day forward, the truth of you, my apprentice, now and forevermore, will be Darth ..."

A pause; a questioning in the Force - An answer, dark as the gap between galaxies - He heard Sidious say it: his new name.


Revenge of the Sith: The Official Novelization Chapter 17: "The Face of the Dark"

But there's no indication of what it means, or why the Force chose it for him.

  • 40
    @Alistair86 My working (headcanon) theory is that the Force chose a name meaning "Father", because prophecy Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 17:20
  • 17
    @JasonBaker vader is the Dutch word for father.
    – Glorfindel
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 18:00
  • 20
    @Glorfindel i.sstatic.net/6NNcS.jpg Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 18:05
  • 39
    Darth Skippy was already taken.
    – user100464
    Commented Jan 18, 2017 at 20:08
  • 27
    Ah yes, the good ol' Force Come Up With Sith Lord Names power. An often overlooked yet integral part of one's Dark Side training. Commented Jan 19, 2017 at 7:23

I personally thought Sidious picked the name as a subtle mockery of Anakin. Sidious is the only one who knows that Anakin and Padme were married, so theres a good chance he probably knew she was pregnant too. Plus Palpatine worked along side Padme for years while she was Queen and he was a senator. He probably suspected something at a certain point. According to another comment, the force "revealed" the name to Sidious, and its not like the force isn't all-knowing so the name just naturally fit Anakin's situation. As it was her specific death in childbirth that is the inciting incident to him becoming a sith. So does work out rather well.

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