One of the things that we know about the Star Wars universe is that the Sith Lords have sobriquets that make them more menacing, as they are Force users that dwell in the dark side of the Force. This makes them different from the Jedi, who go by their given names. Of course, out of all of the Sith Lords we’ve seen in canon, Darth Sidious is the one name that has been a menace to the galaxy. But what exactly does “sidious” mean?
“Sidious” was derived from the word “insidious,” which means “stealthily treacherous or deceitful.” In that regard, this fits the entire character of Darth Sidious as someone who hid behind the shadows for decades while treacherously manipulating the events surrounding the galaxy.
It isn’t a coincidence that Darth Sidious has a name that fits his entire personality, as the Sith Lords were given nicknames that they embody with their way of doing things. Of course, Sidious has a nickname that is perfect for him when you look at the fact that he was the one who ended up manipulating all of the events from Star Wars Episode I to Episode IX.
The Sith Lords and Their Names
If there’s something that we know about Star Wars is that the members of the Sith have nicknames that allow them to become more terrifying. They are unlike the Jedi, who go by their regular names even after getting indoctrinated into the Jedi Order. The Sith, of course, have nicknames that they use to refer to themselves on top of their given names. This is one thing that makes them unique compared to their eternal rivals, the Jedi Order.
The Sith are given nicknames starting with “Darth,” which means Dark Lord of the Sith. Meanwhile, the Darth title comes with a Sith name often used by the Sith Lords when referring to each other. And the first Sith Lord we met was Darth Vader, who we learned was Anakin Skywalker before he fell to the dark side of the Force and became a Sith Lord.
Of course, we’ve met a lot of Sith throughout the entire storyline of Star Wars, and some of them existed long before the time of the Empire. We met two other Sith Lords during the Skywalker Saga’s timeline (the nine mainline movies), Darth Maul and Darth Tyranus. Of course, both of these Sith Lords have nicknames that have meanings.
While we don’t know his real name, Darth Maul’s Sith name was derived from the word “maul,” which is often referred to as the act of an animal tearing apart its prey. Meanwhile, Count Dooku was given the nickname Darth Tyranus when he became a Sith Lord under Chancellor Palpatine. While the word “tyranus” doesn’t mean anything, it was derived from “tyranny,” which refers to an oppressive and cruel form of governance or leadership.
Both Maul and Dooku have Sith names that fit their personalities. Maul is known for being a wild animal that Palpatine used to go after the Jedi during the events of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Meanwhile, we know that Dooku was a tyrannical leader that served as the count of Serenno and was the one who led the Separatists in the war against the Galactic Republic.
In that regard, the names of the Sith Lords usually fit their personalities and how they go about their business. For instance, Darth Vader’s name comes from the word “invade,” which means to subjugate by force. And we did see Vader subjugating many different planets by force when he was Emperor Palpatine’s enforcer.
What Does “Sidious” Mean?
If you’ve noticed, the Sith mentioned above Lords were the apprentices of one man who outlived all of them and operated behind the shadows throughout the events of the nine Star Wars movies. We are talking about Chancellor/Emperor Palpatine, who went by the Sith name Darth Sidious.
While we discussed the meanings of the names of the other Sith Lords that were present during the time of the nine mainline Star Wars movies, we haven’t discussed the meaning of Darth Sidious’ name. So, what does “sidious” mean in Star Wars?
Like the Sith nicknames of Count Dooku and Anakin Skywalker, Sheev Palpatine’s Sith Lord name doesn’t have a direct meaning. However, it was derived from the word “insidious,” which has several meanings. According to dictionary.com, the word “insidious” means:
1. intended to entrap or beguile:
an insidious plan.
2. stealthily treacherous or deceitful:
an insidious enemy.
3. operating or proceeding in an inconspicuous or seemingly harmless way but actually with grave effect:
an insidious disease.
In that sense, Darth Sidious’s personality fits the second meaning of insidious more, as he has always been treacherous and deceitful. He always did things behind his identity as Senator-turned-Chancellor Palpatine, as he used his position of power to influence the events surrounding the Republic.
Ever since he was introduced, Palpatine operated deceitfully, allowing him to treacherously deceive everyone in the galaxy because he had plans of his own. He could also fit the third meaning of insidious: “operating or proceeding in an inconspicuous or seemingly harmless way but actually with grave effect.” And that’s because he has always operated behind the shadows and was doing inconspicuous things that allowed him to reach a harmful goal.
In that regard, the way that Palpatine operated was indeed insidious. He used everyone in the galaxy to achieve his goal of becoming the ruler of the first Galactic Empire while eliminating the Jedi Order. Of course, his plans took decades to materialize, but he was always there to influence the things happening throughout the galaxy to achieve his quest for absolute power. And that’s why the nickname Darth Sidious fits him perfectly.