Advanced search

Free rein - horses, not monarchs

(10 Posts)
badtime Sat 01-Mar-14 23:55:59

I keep seeing 'free reign' all over the place. I'm sure I see it more than the correct 'free rein'. 'Free rein' has started to look wrong!

I know that it is about holding one's horses reins loosely, to allow free movement. However, I can see why people get it wrong - whoever is reigning can do whatever they like, I suppose.

Is there any point trying to fight this one?

meditrina Thu 06-Mar-14 07:18:54

Well, it would be bad to point it out on thread, unless the error made a brilliant (and not unkind) pun.

I suppose I hope that when it's "reign" it's a typo, or momentary confusion, rather than mauling of the idiom.

badtime Fri 07-Mar-14 12:03:23

The only thing I will generally point out on a thread is 'draw' for 'drawer', and that is just because I think many, many people genuinely don't know that 'a chest of draws' is incorrect and it makes me cry .

The rein/reign thing I really only correct for my fellow pedants whose pedantry has slipped for a moment.

I don't think 'reign' in this context is a typo; I think it is a true eggcorn, with a folk etymology that sort of makes sense.

WinterHasRuinedMyFace Fri 07-Mar-14 12:15:00

I've been meaning to look this one up! I thought it should be rein but I wasn't sure, since I could justify both in my head. Horses it is, thanks for clarifying.

HoratiaDrelincourt Fri 07-Mar-14 13:35:59


Horses' reins.

As you were.

Yes, rein/reign/rain (see also "rein in spending") is a particularly annoying homophone error because the words have such different meanings. Steer/rule/snow would never get mixed up.

badtime Fri 07-Mar-14 14:19:42

Actually, it should be 'horse's reins' (one only has one horse, innit?)

StealthPolarBear Fri 07-Mar-14 14:20:51

Reins go on reindeer
George will one day reiGn

ExitPursuedTheRoyalPrude Fri 07-Mar-14 14:22:01

I have two.

HoratiaDrelincourt Fri 07-Mar-14 14:36:29

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ExitPursuedTheRoyalPrude Fri 07-Mar-14 22:08:13

Ooh Horatio. What did you say?

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: