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8 Terms And Phrases We Adopted From Star Wars

From that first moment we heard the epic music blaring as the backstory scrolled up the screen in 1977, we should have known we had an instant classic on our hands. Since Star Wars began with Episode IV, the film has launched countless series, spinoffs, and a fandom that is practically unparalleled.

Star Wars is more than just a geek-chic thing; it has impacted more than just film buffs. Don’t believe us? Just look at our modern language.

We steal a ton of phrases and words from the film for our everyday use. When we refer to coworkers as Jedis or wish someone “may the Force be with you” instead of “good luck,” it’s obvious Star Wars lingo has seamlessly intertwined with our own daily language.

That’s why we’ve put together a slideshow full of Star Wars synonyms that you can use for pretty much any occasion in place of older, mundane words. Who wouldn’t prefer to add some intergalactic flair to their vocab?

WATCH: Star Wars Meets the Dictionary

the Dark Side

In the Star Wars canon, there is an eternal struggle between the Light Side and the Dark Side based upon the idea that people are either good or evil. The struggle between the two sides is the driving force behind these iconic films. But we can use these words for real struggles, too.

When someone does something we deem as evil or wrong (fun fact: the word evil has a long historyoriginating before the year 900), we could say that person “has joined the Dark Side.” It implies that a person or entity took the dark path and surrendered to a corrupt way of existence.

May the Force be with you

It’s friendly to wish each other “good luck” before a big event or journey. This parting or blessing can be altered by its tone. In one instance, it wishes a person the best on an adventure. In another, it’s a dubious or sarcastic send-off: Oh, you’re driving home during rush hour? Good luck!

Thanks to Star Wars, may the Force be with you is interchangeable for either tone. The saying is used in the movie to wish others, mainly Jedis, good fortune on their endeavors. Plus, the word force has history; the word originated in 1250–1300. The notion of the Force has bled over to real life as well.

Have a friend about to start college? Or about to propose to their partner? May the Force be with you is a fitting well wish.

You can also reference the Force when things aren’t quite going how they should. If something seems wrong or you can feel that something bad is about to happen, you can quote Obi Wan Kenobi and say that you feel a disturbance in the Force.

 

Wishing someone the power of the force is certainly an optimistic send-off. Do you know the difference between optimistic and pessimistic? Are they antonyms?

Jedi

The Jedi in the Star Wars universe are literal masters of the Force. To be able to manipulate energy as one does with the Force, you have to be especially skilled and specifically trained. When you become a Jedi, you reach the pinnacle of being “one with the Force” on the Light Side.

The concept of a Jedi has worked its way into the real world and is often applied to people who are specifically skilled at a trade. In other words, Jedi is synonymous with the word expert, which is defined as “a person who has special skill or knowledge in some particular field.”

For instance, if you have a friend who is great at woodworking, you might say he is a Jedi of woodworking.

Padawan

As there is balance in the Force, there is balance in the ability to manipulate the Force.

For every expert Jedi, there is a novice Padawan. In the Star Wars universe, a Padawan is someone who is training to use the Force under the guidance of a Jedi master.

In the real world, Padawan can be used to describe anyone who is learning a new skill. As mentioned above, to be a Padawan is akin to being a novice. Defined as “a person who is new to the circumstances,” be it new work or skills, a novice is essentially at the beginning of their journey.

However, it is more regularly used in conversations in a joking manner to express how naive someone is. For example: Ah, young Padawan, you have much to learn when it comes to the art of negotiations.

nerf herder

Possibly one of the best lines in the entire film series is Princess Leia’s (Carrie Fisher) insult to Han Solo (Harrison Ford): “Why, you stuck-up, half-witted, scruffy-looking, nerf herder.”

In the Star Wars universe, a nerf herder is someone who herds, well, nerfs (smelly, furry animals) across the planets. It’s considered a job for lower-class individuals, so across the galaxy, nerf herder is slung as an insult.

This is one instance in which Star Wars jargon seamlessly translates to IRL usage. When you’re playfully frustrated, it’s totally acceptable to call someone a nerf herder. In fact, slinging that “insult” might end up diffusing a tense situation with a ton of giggles.

Jedi mind trick

https://www.dictionary.com/e/s/essential-language-star-wars-universe/#space-operaBoth the Light Side and the Dark Side can infiltrate the mind, but Jedis are legendary in their use of mind tricks to evade enemies. In the films, these Jedi mind tricks can manipulate others into believing they came up with an idea, which is a supercharged power of persuasion.

In real life, when we are able to convince someone to do something and do so successfully, we joke that we Jedi-mind-tricked them. When Jedi-mind-tricking someone, you’re essentially manipulating them. To manipulate is “to manage or influence skillfully, especially in an unfair manner,” which, admittedly, is a fair assessment of Jedi mind tricks, too: controlling someone’s thoughts with supernatural powers is pretty unfair.

These aren’t the droids you are looking for

The funny thing about the word droid is that it is derived from the very real word android. Defined as “an automaton in the form of a human being,” androids in the Star Wars universe are humanoid; they seem to exhibit emotions and highly logical intelligence simultaneously. The term droids is essentially slang used across the galaxy as a shortening of the word android.

The most noted use of the word is when Obi-Wan Jedi-mind-tricks a bunch of stormtroopers into believing that C3PO and R2-D2 “aren’t the droids they are looking for.” In our everyday language, the phrase these aren’t the droids you’re looking for is used mainly in a joking manner. You can accompany this phrase with a sweep of the hand to mimic Obi-Wan in the film.

Essentially, this is a way to say “keep it moving, nothing to see here” and can be used to misdirect the conversation.

Yoda

The small, green alien sage Yoda is a beloved character who is the unassuming master in the ways of the Jedi. His calm nature, wise fortitude, and funny way of talking have captivated the hearts of fans everywhere. In fact, he is so revered, his very name is considered a huge compliment.

He’s like the Yoda of baseball. Or, Meet my boss, she’s like the Yoda of accounting. It implies a level of mastery accomplished by an extremely skilled person. It also indicates that the person is all-knowing.

In a way, a Yoda is more than just skilled at something; you might say they are omniscient. They have “complete or nearly unlimited knowledge, awareness, or understanding” of a subject, which is exactly what Yoda symbolizes in terms of mastery of the Force.

Do or do not. There is no try. 

We told you that Master Yoda was wise, didn’t we? As Luke struggled to use the Force to pull his ship out of the swamps of Dagobah, Yoda wisely told Luke, “Do or do not. There is no try.” This sage advice was just the thing Luke needed to successfully use the Force.

Do, here, means “to perform” or “to execute.”And the word try means “to attempt to do or accomplish.” Yoda is telling Luke that he must fully commit to his training, as he will only be able to save his friends and the galaxy if he gives all that he has. If Luke is distracted by doubts and fear, he will only ever be able to “try” to master the Force and never be able to “do” it.

Do or do not. There is no try. You can use this phrase to advise someone that half-hearted attempts aren’t good enough. Channel your inner Yoda and remind someone that only through commitment and a huge amount of effort can they accomplish their goals.

It's a trap!

The Rebel Alliance thought they had everything under control as they mobilized their forces to attack the Death Star in Return of the Jedi. Things were all going to plan when suddenly Empire ships appeared. Only the renowned tactician Admiral Ackbar had the strategic military knowledge to recognize what was going on: It’s a trap! 

It’s a trap is a beloved phrase among Star Wars fans and transformed the weird-looking Admiral Ackbar from a minor character to a legendary Star Wars meme. The word trap actually has a long history and means “any device, stratagem, trick, or the like for catching a person unawares.”

Whenever you fall into someone’s nefarious scheme or realize that you’ve played right into someone’s dastardly claws, you can take a page out of the good admiral’s book and shout It’s a trap!

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away …

This iconic phrase appears at the beginning of Star Wars film alongside the classic credits and John Williams’ triumphant, stately musical score. All you need to do is read these words to know that you are in for either a fantastic space adventure or … a film that’s going to inspire many angry tweets and incredibly long rants.

The phrase itself makes sense: the universe is incredibly large and has many galaxies in it. Based on what we know about the age of the universe, it is possible that the events shown in Star Wars could have occurred billions of years ago, which definitely qualifies as “a long time ago.”

If you ever want to give someone the impression that something happened when times were much different than they are now, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away is a great opener to use. The phrase shifts the focus to a time long passed and a place that is far over the horizon.

 

Let your vocabulary soar to its full potential by exploring the wide expanse of Star Wars words that every dedicated fan—from the wisest Jedi to the most cunning bounty hunter—should know.