Rein In Your Misuse Of The Word 'Reign'

It's the cry heard across the Internet: why do you hate freedom? Actually, I don't hate freedom, but I do hate people who write 'reign in' when they actually mean 'rein in'.

Picture: Getty Images

Reigning is what the Queen does. Reins are what we use to restrain horses, and it is from that sense that we get the phrase 'rein in'. Here's the meaning, per the Macquarie Dictionary:

rein in, to restrict or restrain

Sadly, this error pops up constantly in professional contexts where people should know better. Here's a recent headline example from Travel Daily: "Industry battles to reign in corporate travel expenses". Ugh.

Yes, it's confusing that there are three words in the English language with identical pronunciations and different meanings ('rein', 'reign' and 'rain'), and even more confusing that the UK royals are utterly obsessed with horses. But frankly, that's the game we've all chosen to play. Learn the differences. Accuracy matters.

Lifehacker's Mind Your Language column offers bossy advice on improving your writing.


    Hey Angus, do you know if it's true that "raincheck" (as in when shops have a sale and it says "no rainchecks") is actually supposed to be "rein check", but the english language has dumbed it down over the years?

    This might just be some BS my dad told me when I was a kid and I've believed it ever since

      Doing a quick check on the net- it seems to be "rain". They say it comes from either baseball or open air markets- when it rained and people had to pack up early you'd issue spectators a ticket, check, or cheque for the next game to make up for it... I'm not sure how that applies to the markets though.

      or is it raincheque (in AU English)?

    I wish it were picked up more by Lifehacker editors - it's a very common error on this site.

      What did you do to that poor URL? :<

        Fighting the Chrome omnibox on a mobile device is more than my life's worth."reign+in"

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