Ancient Word of the Day: Darth Vader

Ancient Word of the Day: Darth Vader

Fans speculate that the name Darth Vader means ‘Dark Father’ are in for a rude awakening. The real meaning of Darth Vader is actually way cooler than that.

George Lucas, the creator of the Star Wars franchise has (according to online sources) explained that the name Darth Vader comes from ‘Darth’ (Dark Lord of the Sith) and Vader (Dutch for father).

Contrary to this popular belief– Darth Vader, does not actually mean ‘Dark Father’

In Middle English, Darth means something different

and it clearly explains what happens in the films.


The ProtoIndoEuropean word Pa means ‘the one who protects and feeds’ Pa is one of the oldest sounds made in the human language. This then influenced Persian (pa meaning protector) and Sansrkrit (patis meaning master), Mandarin and Cantonese (papa or baba means dad) and all European languages. Even Māori too (a Pā is a fortified village or city and a way of addressing an older male) .

In Northern Europe and the Germanic lanuguages this p sound became an f sound. Which gets us to Vader (meaning father in Dutch)


Darth comes from the Middle English deorfan– meaning to wound or hurt, to be in peril or be destroyed. This in turn comes from ProtoIndoEuropean Derb meaning to work, perish or die.

Therefore, together the words Darth Vader mean a father that kills, puts you in peril or destroys you.

The mother of all plot spoilers indeed!


Derth: Your Dictionary

Infoplease: Darth Vader

Māori Dictionary

Wiktionary: Darth Vader

Written in Stone: A Journey Through the Stone Age and Origins of Modern Language by Christopher Stevens

Published by Content Catnip

Content Catnip is a quirky internet wunderkammer written by an Intergalactic Space Māori named Content Catnip. Join me as I meander through the quirky and curious aspects of history, indigenous spirituality, the natural world, animals, art, storytelling, books, philosophy, travel, Māori culture and loads more.

2 thoughts on “Ancient Word of the Day: Darth Vader

  1. Interesting. Vader is also the South African Afrikaans word for Father. But then Afrikaans has direct ties to the Dutch culture, so that would explain it. PS…. hope your 2021 is off to an excellent start!


    1. Thanks Amanda, glad you enjoyed this post 🙃 yes you too I hope your new year is getting off to a good start too.


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