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What is the meaning behind Rey's name?

I’ve found a lot of answers about Kylo Ren but why Rey? It means king and that’s all?

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    Does there have to be a meaning?
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Jan 16, 2020 at 11:55
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    @TheLethalCarrot There often is some symbolism or significance to be found in fictional names, which may be chosen carefully, especially in sci-fi/fantasy where many characters have names that don't exist in the real world. It's a valid question.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Jan 16, 2020 at 12:14
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    @Randal'Thor I'm not saying it isn't a valid question or that there isn't a meaning. My point is that there doesn't have to be one.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Jan 16, 2020 at 12:16
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    @TheLethalCarrot Sure. My comment was also meant for the downvoters, as I'm surprised this question is being poorly received so far.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Jan 16, 2020 at 12:31
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    @Jontia: look at Ray Winstone. Look at Daisy Ridley. Can you honestly tell them apart? Jan 16, 2020 at 13:25

1 Answer 1

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If there is any meaning to it, it has yet to be spoken about. J.J. Abrams had an interview with Entertainment Weekly back in August 2015 where he went into detail about the meanings behind the names new to the Force Awakens. In that interview though he declined to comment on Rey and Finn's names at all because... spoilers.

Abrams isn’t ready to reveal their full identities, but did confirm that this theory was getting warm. “I will only say about that that it is completely intentional that their last names aren’t public record,” he says.

Entertainment Weekly, Star Wars: The Force Awakens: J.J. Abrams explains origins of character names

As far as I can tell he is yet to give an interview now that The Rise of Skywalker is out and those spoilers completely revealed about the meaning behind their names. So officially the answer is: we don't know.

That said of interest to note is that Rey's (and Finn's) names were not originally that. In pre-production Rey was Kira and Finn was Sam (and also previously John Doe) according to The Art of The Force Awakens. It was only once filming had already started in Abu Dhabi that Rey became Rey; which was during the first week and a half as that's how long they filmed there.

AD What were your initial conversations with J.J. [Abrams] about your character? Did you know the character’s name was Rey?

DR No, no, he told me it was meant to be Keera. And then, when we were already shooting in Abu Dhabi, he told me that he was thinking of going with Rey, which I thought was frickin’ awesome. But because I had to audition so much and everything, I never really had a conversation with J.J. about it until I had read the script. So, I had no sense of what I was getting into. No sense of what was really going to happen or what anything would entail. I hadn’t done a film before, so it was a whole new thing. It’s such a crazy thing the first time around: Even if [J.J. and I] had had a conversation about it, nothing would’ve even made sense at that point anyway. It was unfolding as we went along.

V Magazine, DRIVING MISS DAISY

The name, Rey, then, could only have been chosen to adapt into the story as the script was already written. The story couldn't have been based around the name. Therefore, any meaning, if at all, would have to tie into what was already written.

For some speculation, the whole sequel trilogy, and to be fair Star Wars in general, is about hope.

Jyn Erso: Rebellions are built on hope.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Given there is a popular saying "ray of hope" I'd imagine Rey was probably just taken from there. This also makes some sense in universe as well given what we found out in The Rise of Skywalker:

Rey is actually a Palpatine who was left alone on Jakku to fend for herself for her own safety. This is because she is a Palpatine, Sheev's granddaughter, and he wanted her to takeover from him so her parents took her away at the cost of their own lives. So "ray of hope" makes sense given they had hope for her to live without the shadow of Sheev or the Sith and for her to do better than that.

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    Or "King", since it turns out that she's basically Force royalty
    – Valorum
    Jan 16, 2020 at 15:19
  • Since れい means zero in Japanese, if the original plan was for her to be "no one" as implied in TLJ, that would also make sense.
    – Adamant
    Jan 16, 2020 at 21:03

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