Why are the Death Stars called "Death Stars?" I mean they are not even vaguely related to a star so why "Death Star" and not something like "Planet Killer?"

Furthermore it doesn't even look like a star or glow like a star. So why the star in particular?

What I am targeting is why did the empire choose to name it death star when it has got nothing related to a star?

In universe answers please

  • 6
    Because George Lucas thought it sounded cool, and he was right.
    – A.bakker
    Jan 5 at 14:33
  • 1
    This is speculative, so I'm hesitant to make it an answer, but it could be either a) derived from their project name, "Project Stardust", or b) a reference to their spherical form.
    – F1Krazy
    Jan 5 at 14:55
  • Might as well ask why the "Death Blossom" in "The Last Starfighter" has its name...doesn't have anything to do with flowers, either being a flower, or destroying them. Jan 9 at 14:04

3 Answers 3


As shown in Rogue One, the codename for the secret superweapon development project was "Project Stardust". Galen Erso gave it that name after his nickname for his daughter, Jyn Erso.

While it's not clear (in Canon) who gave the Death Star its name, it's a reasonable inference that its name was inspired by the project that led to its development.


Reading the name according to standard English grammar (by which I just mean the way English is spoken and understood by native speakers), there is no implication of killing stars. In technical terms, English noun phrases generally put the adjective before the noun. For example, a "Blue Star" is a star that is blue, not "something that makes stars blue"; so "Death Star" is naturally read as "Star of Death".

More specifically, "death" here means "intended to cause death"; compare "death march", "death panel", or the equally science-fictional "death ray".

The "star" is less literal - it's closer to a "satellite" or "artificial moon", but "star" gives a sense of grandeur and scale. Historically, all astronomical bodies were called "stars" - Venus was "the morning star", and planets generally were "wandering stars". The first telecommunications satellite was called "Telstar 1". Using "artificial star" to mean "a very large artificial object in space" isn't a particularly unusual use of language.

(Your suggestion of "Planet Killer" works differently, it would mean "something that can kill a planet"; on the other hand, you could also call the object a "Killer Planet" - "a planet designed to kill something".)

  • you lost me at standard english grammar, this is a movie and when you gotta sell merchandise people wont sit and think if the noun came first or the adjective, they'll see the name and assume
    – shanu
    Jan 5 at 15:27
  • 3
    @shanu Every time you speak English, you are using English grammar, even if you don't know how to describe it. If I say "red balloon", you don't have to think about which is the adjective and which is the noun, but you know that I mean "a balloon that is red", not "a shade of red which has the property of balloons". That's all I'm saying here: read naturally, "death star" means "star of death" not "death of stars", just as "death march" means "march of death" not "death of March".
    – IMSoP
    Jan 5 at 15:29
  • Frankly that is exactly how I understood it when I saw ANH for the first time, and I am not even a native English speaker (plus it works exactly the same way in my mother tongue). Only downside of this answer is that it is based on real world considerations and not anything in-universe. Jan 5 at 15:53
  • All I am asking is why is there a star in the name?m not talking about real world grammar, just talking about the empires grammar
    – shanu
    Jan 5 at 16:01
  • @shanu Your question says "they are not supposed to destroy stars"; I'm pointing out that that's irrelevant, because the name doesn't say anything about destroying stars. A "Blue Star" wouldn't make stars blue, and a "Peace Star" wouldn't make stars peaceful, they would be types of star, and that's what "Death Star" means: "a Star that causes Death".
    – IMSoP
    Jan 5 at 16:04

It's a pretty near literal name

Consider the last moments of Alderaan.

From the command-bridge of the Death Star, Alderaan looked like this:

enter image description here

Assuming that's a window, not a viewscreen with zoom-control, Alderaan looks mighty far away.
Not so different to how our moon looks to us on earth.

So assume the Death Star, which is around 1:20th the size of our moon was orbiting at the same distance as said moon..

We could definitely see it at night.
It'd be a bright white dot. Metal is pretty reflective.
You probably wouldn't see any details, maybe the darker circle of the dish, or a band across the middle for the trench.
You'd probably need a telescope to make out those details.

But for the average person looking up one day and noticing the strange bright white dot in the sky?
It's a star.

enter image description here

You're looking at the bright white star, and then it turns green, and you die.

It's a star that kills.
Death. Star.

An accurate description of what you'd experience if you were on the receiving end.

  • For comparison, here is the Death Star as seen from the surface of Scarif in Rogue One.
    – F1Krazy
    Jan 10 at 17:12
  • The Death Star was a lot closer to Scarif and indeed Jedda than it was to Alderaan. Jan 10 at 18:19

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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