Peeve of the Day

That’s right, people . . . it’s one of those days when Dr. Doyle waxes, if not wroth, at least a little bit cranky about the latest writing-related pebble in her metaphorical sandal.

Okay, then.  Listen up.

The phrase is not “free reign.”  It’s “free rein.”

Why?  Because it’s a horsemanship metaphor.  In equestrian usage, “free rein” refers to a rein held loosely to allow a horse free motion, or to the freedom that doing so gives to the horse.

(It refers, in other words, not to having control or power over somebody or something, but to having self-determination or freedom of choice in a particular situation.)

11 thoughts on “Peeve of the Day

  1. Thanks! Far too many fictional horses are ridden with ‘reigns’ as well- they might be kingly mounts but even princes ride with ‘reins’. Its enough to make me drop the book all by itself.

  2. This one drives me insane. No matter what I’m reading, it throws me right out of the sense of the story. Have you run across “discrete” when the writer means “discreet”? I always flinch at that one, too.

  3. I’m laughing out loud, but… The literacy level seems to be continuing to drop, with all those “one year anniversary morons and people who use “factoid” in exactly the opposite way the word was invented to designate, and the disappearance of verbals.. It would neer havre occurred to me that someone woul had written “free reign” intentionally as other than a pun…

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