Make Your Editor Cry: Free Reign vs. Free Rein

Make Your Editor Cry: Free Reign vs. Free Rein

The correct idiom refers to the reins which control a horse. It’s easy to see why this one looks correct, considering that “reign” is something that kings, queens, and other sovereigns do, but that is not what is intended.

When you give a horse “free rein” you let it go where ever it wants to go. You let it make its own decisions and give it freedom to move as it desires.

The correct phrase is to “free rein.”

Incorrect:

I gave him free reign to do what he needs to.

Correct:

If you gave me free rein, I’d collect every Christmas ornament on earth.

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