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The Sith name of the emperor is Darth Sidious. As English is not my native language, I wonder if the is any hidden meaning for the name Sidious.

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6 Answers 6

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For English speakers it's a really not subtle hint that he's bad and evil. It's like naming a villain "Bad Man". The name Sidious by itself isn't a word, but it's probably derived from the word insidious.

Google defines the word insidious as

Proceeding in a gradual, subtle way, but with harmful effects.

Which is a good description of what Darth Sidious did in the prequel trilogy.

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    It's useful to notice that this is a very common theme among the names of Sith Lords. Sidious = insidious, Vader = invader, Tyranus = tyrant. Bane and Maul are a great deal more obvious, they're both straight-up English words.
    – Matt
    Jan 8, 2014 at 21:21
  • @Matt yesterday, somewhere on this site, I've read that Vader comes from "father". (not implying it was true, neither that it can't be a hint to both word)
    – o0'.
    Feb 26, 2014 at 14:56
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    Vader is Dutch for "father" en.wiktionary.org/wiki/vader. :)
    – brain56
    Feb 27, 2014 at 1:45
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    @brain56 - Lucas did not originally plan for Vader to be Luke's father, so it's just a coincidence.
    – Hypnosifl
    Mar 9, 2016 at 22:47
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    Also, the book The Secret History of Star Wars mentions that one of Lucas' old yearbooks shows that Lucas actually had a classmate with the last name "Vader", and p. 172 of The Making of Star Wars quotes Lucas saying of the name "That's just another one of those things that came out of thin air. It sort of appeared in my head one day. I had lots of Darth this and Darth that, and Dark Lord of the Sith. The early name was actually Dark Water. Then I added lots of last names, Vaders and Wilsons and Smiths, and I just came up with the combination of Darth and Vader."
    – Hypnosifl
    Mar 9, 2016 at 22:48
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Strictly speaking, "Sidious" means nothing in English. The word insidious is defined as intended to entrap or beguile.

This word in turn comes from a Latin word, sedere, meaning "to sit" (think sedentary). Insidere means "to sit in"...perhaps a reference to eavesdropping or surveillance. The suffix "osus" means "full of" in Latin (just like "ous" does in English), so it's just a short trip from insidiosus to "insidious".

As Jeff noted, Lucas seems to like to drop the first syllable for scary names - Invader to Vader, Insidious to Sidious. Presumably, a Sith who could control fire would be called Darth Flammatory...

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    Heh, and a Sith who failed miserably at everything would have the ironic name Darth Competent. Oct 5, 2011 at 22:41
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    One who would never budge in an argument would be Darth Transigent. Oct 6, 2011 at 13:51
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    Actually, I think "Darth Vader" comes from a tweaked "Dark Father"
    – Daenyth
    Oct 6, 2011 at 16:20
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    I've heard the Dutch "Vader = Father" thing, but two things have always struck me. 1 - it's not clear to me that Lucas knew that Vader was Luke's father when he wrote Star Wars (despite what anyone has said after the fact). If I'm a writer, I'm choosing a name based on the sound of the word in the language I'm writing in. And what is magic about Dutch? He could have chosen Sanskrit, and it's "Darth Janaka". I think it's pretty clear that he chose "Vader" because it's cognate to "invader". I won't preclude the possibility that he chose it for more than one reason, though. Fun stuff. Oct 7, 2011 at 16:46
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    @Pureferret That's not a reverse-Grimm though. A reverse-Grimm (and Verner) would give you… well, Latin in this case: Darth Pater. The Dutch/German v here is just orthographic: it historically represents a /f/. And the d in Dutch and German is a later development from /ð/, not the other way around. Apr 3, 2015 at 17:09
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It was a form of naming convention, I believe. Darth Vader from the OT was named based on the word 'invader'. Darth Sidious for Episode 1 works the same way from 'insidious'.

This falls apart, however, for Darth Maul and Darth Tyranus.

Edit, additional info:

As has been pointed out in the comments, 'Maul' and 'Tyranus' both wear their meanings on the sleeves, and they were apparently not intended to survive long as Sidious' seconds. Their names were likely chosen offhand or self-chosen, then.

Plutor posited a link that discusses the history of Vader's name. In my opinion, the dismissal of 'invader' as a source is purely offhand, with no real consideration given. At the time the OT was written, Lucas didn't know Vader was Luke's dad, and had no concept of his history. And Anakin DID act as an 'invader' - he acted from within the Jedi to help destroy them. His corruption to the Dark Side began in AotC, and culminated with his invasion of the Temple in RotS.

So there's certainly a case to be made for 'vader' to be shortened from 'invader', in-universe. In-universe, however, there's no sign that it means 'Dark Father'. The language it stems from (purportedly Dutch) isn't stated in the article, and most likely doesn't exist in the SW universe.

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    Darth Vader was named after the dutch word for "father". blogs.starwars.com/Mechu-Deru/4
    – Plutor
    Oct 5, 2011 at 18:21
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    Maul and Tyrannus are words that carry their meanings on their sleeves, so to speak.
    – fluffy
    Oct 5, 2011 at 18:54
  • @Plutor: double meanings are nice. My version may also be apocryphal.
    – Jeff
    Oct 5, 2011 at 19:49
  • @Plutor: Edited my response based on your comment.
    – Jeff
    Oct 5, 2011 at 19:54
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It's based on insidious (slow, subtle, gradual harm) and assiduous (constant application & attention to detail until task is finished), combined with the new Sith philosophy — the rule of two — to sit, wait and work in secret at the whole plan to destroy the Jedi (as was the Sith’s original goal).

His character believed he was the Sithari — the chosen one of the Sith, the culmination of 1000 years of Sith evolution. He learned through his prolonged study of Sith history to renew the way the Sith operated.

He cultivated a small but powerful Sith Order to use against the Jedi and entered politics to work in secret (but in plain view as a Senator) to infiltrate the Republic. The discrediting of the Jedi was his whole plot, combined with Order 66 so he was only left with a small number of Jedi to deal with in his rise to power, which he totally orchestrated & manipulated through controlling the war as the villain and the hero by keeping battles even to prolong the war and exhaust the Jedi.

Also so much study of the Dark Side made him pure evil as he was able to train with his master for decades to learn all he could to prepare himself for his plan to become Emperor by gaining power through the illustrious career of starting and controlling outcomes of war, slowly guiding events to align with his plan until he could gain emergency power to execute Order 66. The phantom menace was his beginning as the new improved Sith & mastermind of the Republic.

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    Perhaps English isn't your first language but this would be much easier to read with elimination of the run on &s to break it down into some digestible sentences.
    – Stan
    Feb 26, 2014 at 13:16
  • Agreed. It will take a better man than me to decipher and edit this. I'm recommending deletion. Feb 26, 2014 at 13:50
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    @JamesSheridan: A BETTER MAN ENTERS!!!!! And realises there’s an actual answer in the first paragraph, followed by a general and somewhat-confusing ramble about everyone’s favourite Imperial figurehead. Feb 26, 2014 at 15:00
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    @PaulD.Waite: CLAP. CLAP. CLAP. You deserve all the upvotes. Both for the greatest first sentence I've seen on these boards, and for the edit. Feb 27, 2014 at 7:28
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Naming a Sith is a Skill. Its based on English word describing a certain kind of evil or dark thing. For example : Darth Sidious is short for the word INSIDIOUS, which is a form of evil. As to Darth Maul is short for Malicious, Darth Vader is short for Invader, Darth Tyranous (count dooku) is short for Tyrany. Darth Revan is for Ravenous, Darth Plaguies is short for Plague. Darth Bane is basically BANE itself.. Darth Gravid is short for Gravity, Darth Ramage is short for Damage.

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    Welcome to SFFSE! That's an interesting theory, but do you have any sources to support your argument? This would really help it! Jun 25, 2015 at 3:23
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It seemed that Lucas also used portmanteau words, a combination of 2 words, which means that there are 2 meanings packed into one word. Darth for example reminds the words "dark" and "dart" and possibly "death". Sidious seemed to be made up of the words "insidious" and "vicious". As in Lewis Caroll's poem "Jabberwocky", these words carry meaning because they evoke other words.

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    “Sidious seemed to be made up of the words "insidious" and "vicious"” — what part of “vicious” was added to “sidious” to make “sidious”? Jun 25, 2015 at 11:03

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