• Mattie Stu

How Star Wars Characters Are Named - The Prequels

The galaxy far, far away is incredible. It truly feels like a living, breathing universe, not simply the figment of George Lucas' imagination. Of course, such realism and depth is conjured primarily through stunning locations and unforgettable characters driven by believable motivations. But how did the mastermind himself, Dave Filoni, Disney, the countless Expanded Universe novelists and story tellers – how did they decide on fitting names for such worlds and individuals? Well, let's find out!

People often say that setting is a character within itself, so let's begin with the various planets seen in the prequel trilogy. Other than Tatooine, which we'll get onto in just a sec, Coruscant is perhaps the most renown planet in the Star Wars universe. I mean, it serves as the galactic capital and seat for both the Galactic Republic and its successor state. And what makes it so unique from any other urban setting is its vast, densely populated skyline and its overgrown, uncoordinated streets. The planet's light truly shines for the rest of the galaxy to see. So what name could be better for such a location than a word that literally means glittering or sparkling? Coruscant really is as its name describes. Another name equally as fitting is Mustafa – the original title of the lava world Mustafar – which some say translates to the "Chosen One”. Of course, Anakin Skywalker is such a prophesied figure, meaning that his decision to establish a personal base of operations on the planet is somewhat poetic.

Now, let's revert back to the planet so near and dear to our hearts – the world that has stuck with us ever since 1977 – Tatooine. Surely a name like Tatooine is the product of one's creative imagination, right? Well, not quite. Sure, George Lucas took some creative liberties in naming the desert world, but for the most part he simply lifted the similar yet slightly different title of a small town in Tunisia. As for the other planets seen in the prequel trilogy, we can certainly speculate as to why they were named the way they were. Take Geonosis, for example, this location was intended to be known quite simply as “rock planet”. So the geo part of its final name very much makes sense in such a context. And the word gnosis, which alludes to knowledge of spiritual mysteries, could somewhat link to its mystical and unearthed history. At this point, however, we're very much conjuring non-concrete theories, so let's swiftly move on.

To be honest, the meanings behind many character names in the prequel trilogy are easy enough to work out. People like Darth Sidious and Darth Maul, for example, simply borrow menacing and malicious words, either partially or in full. And it goes without saying that the title Darth is merely a play on the word “dark”. One villain with a seemingly more convoluted name, however, is Nute Gunray. Spelled traditionally, newt is a small, slender amphibian, not too dissimilar from the reptile bloodline, while Gunray acts as an anagram of “raygun”. Combining these suggest that the Viceroy is nothing more than an untrustworthy weapon operated from the shadows. Which is exactly right.

Before we take a look at this week's main attraction, let's uncover the meaning behind the names of some heroes in quick-fire fashion:

  • Qui-Gon Jinn - Jinn in Arabic mythology refers to a supernatural being slightly inferior to angels and demons. It also inspired the word genie, which is appropriate given Qui-Gon's never-ending spiels about the Force.

  • Commander Cody – As the only clone trooper to be named in any of the prequel films, Cody's name was bestowed with great thought. In fact, it directly pays homage to film serial character the Rocket Man – AKA Commando Cody.

  • Coleman Trebor – No smoke and mirrors here – Coleman Trebor was merely named after Robert Coleman of Industrial Light and Magic fame. Of course, his last name became the Jedi's first, while Robert was simply spelled backwards.

  • Padmé Amidala – In Sanskrit, Padmé – or rather Padma – means lotus flower. As for Amidala, well – many believe it to be a very rough anagram of Dalai Lama. I guess child rulers are very influential.

Last but not least, and in the main event spot for today's episode, is none other than Anakin Skywalker. Catching absolutely no one by surprise, the name selected for the Chosen One in Star Wars has innumerable biblical connotations. Perhaps more surprising, however, is that even his nickname has a deeper meaning. Indeed, Ani is a kind of bird. And what are birds best known for? That's right, sky-walking... Or I guess flying, depending on what cool wording you so desire.

So that wraps it up for today, but be sure to come back next time to discover how even more Star Wars characters were named!

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