I was thinking about the phrase 'young padawan,' and it seemed to me to be a permanent part of Star Wars lore. Yet, I definitely remember being into Star Wars well before the prequels, while I just re-watched the original trilogy and don't remember hearing the term padawan anywhere. There are multiple uses of the word 'apprentice;' but in movie terms, padawan seems to be fist introduced in Episode I.

In the greater Star Wars universe and all its associated products, what is the first use of the word 'padawan'? To be clear, I don't care about what is canon and what is not, I want to know the first time it showed up in any written script, book, video game, etc.

  • 2
    Some time around the Prequel Trilogy
    – Edlothiad
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 17:05
  • @Edlothiad I remember it from before then, as CBredlow's answer tells us. I don't know if I came across it in a video game, RPG, card game or novel, but I knew it before the prequels. Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 18:17
  • It might help to clarify whether you're looking for the "first" usage in-world, or out-of-world. Thankfully @CBredlow seems to answer both ("Phantom Menace" for in-world, and the 1974 script is the first time Lucas used it, which would've be around the time of "A New Hope" in-world)
    – Doktor J
    Commented Dec 20, 2017 at 15:26

3 Answers 3


In the current canon, the first time the word 'padawan' shows up is in Phantom Menace, where Qui-Gon calls Obi-Wan that.

According this rough draft by Lucas in 1974 (page 18) we see the first ever reference to the word 'Padawan' as a student to the Jedi.(Thanks NKCampbell for finding it)

This is the first time we see the word written down, and much of the expanded universe used this as a reference, as they had to get approval from Lucasfilm for their works.

The word also appears in the 1993 series Tales of the Jedi as well as the series Knights of the Old Republic (the comics of course, since they came before the games). However, some of the earlier issues of Tales of the Jedi used the phrase "jedi apprentice" and later did padawan.

  • 1
    Sorry for not being specific, I clarified that I want to know the first time it appeared in any format. If it was in an early draft for the original Star Wars, can you find a reference to that?
    – kingledion
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 17:56
  • 2
    maddogmovies.com/almost/scripts/starwars_rough5-74.pdf - page 18 - no idea how valid this doc is - has a lot of things I do know were in the original draft (Utupau, Jedi Bendu, etc...)
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 18:03
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    @NKCampbell thanks, I knew the word had appeared in the Dark horse comics adaptation of the rough draft.
    – CBredlow
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 18:09
  • 2
    @CreationEdge The one where we first see Luke's academy on Yavin IV and Exar Kun shows up to cause trouble, that was a long time ago (maybe I got the trilogy name wrong)
    – CBredlow
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 19:25
  • 4
    Yeah but when was that draft made available to the public?
    – Mazura
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 20:40

You're right, the term was introduced in The Phantom Menace. Wookieepedia states:

The term Padawan first appeared as far back as George Lucas's first story treatments for Star Wars. However, it was not heard before Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace was filmed; in all previous works, the concept was called "Apprentice."

Although the article is categorized as Legends, it holds in Canon, too.

  • 1
    Sorry for not being specific, I clarified that I want to know the first time it appeared in any format. If it was in a story treatment for the original Star Wars, can you find a reference to that?
    – kingledion
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 17:55

According to the OED and many online references, it was 1973 in the first iteration of The Journal of the Whills

1973 G. Lucas Jrnl. of Whills (MS draft) in L . Dowling Star Wars Year by Year (2010) 29/1 This is the story of Mace Windy..as related to us by C.J. Thorpe, padawaan learner to the famed Jedi.

Oxford English Dictionary, Padawan, n.

  • 1
    I've removed a lot of the irrelevant information from the link that isn't relevant to the question. Also as per the help page on referencing I have added the link to the web page and put the quote into quote markdown to indicate it is a quote. In the future please try and remember to do this also!
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented May 4, 2020 at 8:27

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