• Grace A. Johnson

Name of the Week: Rhys

So...this one is a guilty pleasure. None of y'all really know Rhys Sterling yet, but I wanted to share a little bit of the background on his name, which has some very interesting origins.

Without spoiling anything (no guarantees, of course), I'll give you a bit of backstory on Rhys himself. After I watched Gone with the Wind at the age of twelve, then read the book a couple weeks later, I knew without the shadow of a doubt that (1) Rhett Butler is AWESOME, no matter what my dad says and (2) I needed a character just like him. So Rhys Sterling was born. Originally, his story was to be vaguely similar to Rhett's--and I mean vaguely. He would be a blockade runner, from the South but living in New York, who returned to Atlanta, met and fell in love with a girl (can't remember what I named her) who was in love with another man (who was a total dork) and then...that was pretty much it. Rhys started out as being my version of Rhett, and simply that--similar appearance, similar views/ideals, and just as roguish and rakish.

Well, when I began with that idea, I aligned Rhys with my characters Kerri and Marcus Cannon, making Rhys Marcus's closest friend. Of course, I ditched the plot, then I ditched Kerri's original story, so all of that--all of my beloved Rhys--was pushed to the back burner.

In my recent revisiting of these characters, I've revived Rhys. A lot has changed, of course, as he's morphed into a character all his own, and he happens to be a more radical (and political) Confederate than Rhett, the scalawag, ever was.

I love this character, though, even if he's kind of deviated from his "dad" a little bit. (He's still got an illegitimate kid, just like Rhett did, though.)

Which is beside the point. You want to know about his name, don't you? *crickets chirp incessantly in the background* Wait--you don't? Oh, of course you do!

Since Rhys was based on Rhett, I needed a name closely related to his. So I searched for meanings. Rhett has a controversial origin, with some claiming that it's an English translation of the Dutch surname de Raedt--coming from a Middle Dutch word meaning "advice"--which sounds pretty plausible. But, the more the you dig, the more you find that says that Rhett is a form of Rhys. I've looked up the meanings before--although I can't find that particular resource now--and they both mean ardent or fiery.

Other sources immediately connect the two, which still seems pretty believable, when you give them a cursory glance--I mean, they both start with Rh; that can't be a coincidence.

Anyway...back to Rhys.

It's a very old Welsh name, derived from the Old Welsh Ris, which means "fiery warrior." It's also related to the modern rhysfa, meaning "attack," and rhys, meaning "war hammer," which both probably have the same origin anyway. Rhys is both a forename and a surname--think John Rhys-Davies, for example. In Welsh, it's pronounced with a soft h sound in the beginning--but in English, it's pronounced just like it's spelled--Reese. From it comes Price, Rice, and other variants of Reese, such as Reece and Rees.

There's not much to say about Rhys, unfortunately, due to scarce research, but it does have a prominent place in Wales and in old legends/mythology, and there are several people bearing the name (either as a first or last) today.

And I just realized that my character does not have a middle name.

Weird.

Y'all leave in the comments section who's name you want to see next! Also, I hope you enjoyed this itsy bitsy peek into what my next, next novel is going to feature!

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