In The Last Jedi, I thought it was a little odd that Luke referred to the lightsaber as a "laser sword". Given that the lightsaber identifies a Jedi, why did he refer to it as such?

  • 6
    trivia: in German the term is Lichtschwert which is literally light sword. Same for Danish: lyssværd. Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 15:10
  • 9
    Is there any chance that the script writers were fans of Darths & Droids? Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 17:06
  • 9
    I initially read the second line as "Given that the lightsaber identifies as a Jedi" and puzzled about identity crises in Star Wars before I realized the word wasn't actually there. Might want to change that wording a bit just in case :P
    – MD XF
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 19:44
  • 1
    More trivia: in Spanish, the term for lightsaber is "espada láser" which literally means "laser sword", so the "joke" was lost in translation.
    – walen
    Commented Dec 20, 2017 at 8:34
  • 5
    More trivia, in English a saber is a type of sword, and lasers are made of light... 😆
    – Paul
    Commented Dec 20, 2017 at 12:46

6 Answers 6


He was mocking Rey.

He was arguing to Rey that he wasn't the savior she thought he was, and he wasn't going to return and go defeat the First Order on his own. He mis-identifies the lighstaber to mock the idea that he could take down the whole army with his weapon. Laser sword is the way somebody who is unfamiliar to a lightsaber might refer to one, so it emphasizes the lack of knowledge someone would need to have to expect him to defeat the First Order.

  • 22
    @Edlothiad The script for Episode IV called them "laser swords", so I don't think it was originally a joke. Anakin does refer to them as "laser swords" in Episode I, and that could be considered a joke.
    – Null
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 14:12
  • 11
    In Lucas's audio commentary track on the original trilogy DVDs, he always calls them "laser swords", never lightsabers.
    – Ross Smith
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 17:05
  • 5
    @Null I think it's more likely that young Anakin in Episode I honestly just calls it a laser sword. How many people in the galaxy are familiar with lightsabers such that they call them lightsabers? I mean, we call all kinds of things by their improper name (or refer to generic items by a popular brand name, too).
    – TylerH
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 22:09
  • 3
    @TylerH Yes, the joke is that Anakin in his ignorance used the same improper name as Lucas originally used.
    – Null
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 22:48
  • Dooku also refers to lightsabers as "swords" in Ep II.
    – Nick Moore
    Commented Apr 20, 2018 at 19:01

He tries to remove the lightsaber's mythical image.

The term lightsaber implies a lot of things beyond the actual technical device. For example, it is a part of the Jedi religion, it is a weapon of mythical reputation, it is the weapon that great heroes fought their heroic battles with.

Luke wants to make Rey understand that everything beyond the apparatus itself is pure imagination, so he calls the lightsaber by a name that describes the device, but lacks context, to relativize her associations regarding the weapon.

It's a bit like calling, say, Excalibur, an “old sword”. It's aimed at removing properties of the device which are – in Luke's opinion – not real, and thereby questioning the validity of the Jedi religion that he has become disillusioned with.


Remember that we open with Rey handing Luke the lightsaber (i.e. the end of The Force Awakens) and

Luke tosses it behind him and walks away without saying a word, much to Rey's astonishment

Luke doesn't want anything to do with Rey, or rebellions, or Jedi. He's now a crotchety (and snarky) old man. Mocking Rey by disparaging the lightsaber is a way to discourage her so she'll leave him alone.


George Lucas often referred to them as "laser swords." The phrase was also used in Phantom Menace by Anakin, referencing Qui Gon's lightsaber. I think we can infer that both phrases are used in-universe.

  • 1
    Yes, it seems like laser sword is a layman's term, used by those who don't really know much about the Jedi. By using the term on Rey, Luke is indirectly asserting what he goes on to say outright - she might think she knows about Jedi and the force, but she really doesn't.
    – delinear
    Commented Dec 22, 2017 at 10:10
  • I don't have a source but I read somewhere that "laser sword" was Lucas' original term for it and the hollywood machine insisted on "lightsabers" so that's probably why he did that, it was his original name for it.
    – Tom Kidd
    Commented Dec 24, 2017 at 0:42
  • "Swords" was also used in Attack of the Clones. Count Dooku says to Anakin and Obi-Wan "your swords, please", referring to their lightsabers.
    – Nick Moore
    Commented Apr 20, 2018 at 18:54

I thought it might have been a tribute to Lucas who called a light saber a laser sword, a lot. Or, it might have been his disdain for the weapon on the director’s choice to portray the character. He was entirely bitter against the force and the Jedi at that point. Could have been both.

  • 1
    If you could provide a source for that first claim you it would really support your answer. Furthermore, I've removed the praise for Mark Hamill, while (imo) correct, it doesn't provide any benefit to the ansewr.
    – Edlothiad
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 14:27
  • Laser sword
    – Machavity
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 15:26
  • 1
    Look up Lucas AND Lasersword for a fun clip. Also, there is a fun clip about this from Stephen Colbert in relationship to this. I think I first heard it when I was a kid watching a commentary from Lucas after the re-release, and I remember my heart shudder as my brain asked “why?” I guess I included the praise for Hamill’s performance because I felt the context of the argument with Rey felt noteworthy in his bitterness and choice of that phrase that I guarantee was purposeful in getting under the audiences’ skin. It worked for me and the original asker :-) Thanks for your clarification.
    – Jeff
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 17:45

It's just a story. One of the script writers decided to call it a Laser Sword and they decided to keep it. Maybe there is no deep meaning.

  • 4
    Hi Philip, welcome to the scifi SE. Here, we try to make in universe analysis to find explanations to character motivations, laws of physics or societal dynamics. I suggest you to go through accepted answers with high upvotes to get the gist of scifi SE. Cheers :)
    – user65648
    Commented Dec 20, 2017 at 11:29
  • 4
    Meta answers ("because it's just a work of fiction") are considered unwelcome on the site.
    – Valorum
    Commented Dec 20, 2017 at 14:05

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