Anyone Want Some Free Reins?

I come across this from time to time: the mix-up over the homophones rein and reign. Just why is that letter G in there anyway? The word reign means to rule, and comes from the Latin (13th century) regnum, hence the silent G. Not that that will really help you remember to spell the word correctly.

The word rein means to restrain. You rein in a horse. Similarly, you give someone free rein to do something, meaning you are loosening the restraint on them. If you’ve ridden a horse, you get that. You ease up on the reins and give the horse his head so he can take off. So try to picture that when you’re trying to remember which rein (not reign or rain) you are setting free.

Now, why that makes me think there’s a correlation to the confusion over throne and thrown I’m not sure. But I also see writers using thrown as in “The king sits on the thrown.” Which is wrong. But maybe getting thrown and giving the horse free rein have something to do with it. Best to keep throne and reign together and leave the horse out of the picture.

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