Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Rain/Reign/Rein in Spain

My husband had the nerve to question one of my word choices recently. I know! Can you believe it? In a post a few days ago I said something about how I would try to "rein in" the cynicism. Dan said, "Shouldn't that be "reign in with a G" instead of "rein in"?

I told him that it was used correctly because I was reining in my snarkiness, as one would use the reins to "rein in" a horse that was running too fast. "Reign" refers to governing or ruling a country, so that wouldn't make sense. Right? But did he believe me? No. He wants proof.

I consulted The Eggcorn Database to answer the question, but it wasn't enough for Dan. I think it clearly supports my horsey argument, but I need more to back up my argument. I even took this BBC homophone quiz--the superstar level, I might add--which was pretty funny because those wacky British types think that "caught" and "court" actually rhyme! In the South, "caught" and "cot" rhyme and neither of them have an R in the middle.

Oh! Then today I found the following passage on page 244 of Elizabeth Hoyt's THE SERPENT PRINCE: "His lust rose, shaking his muscles, but he reined it in." See, so I must be right because Hoyt said that Simon was reining in his lust. (Don't worry, his resolve didn't last. It's a really fun book.)

I leave it to you, my faithful interpeeps, to settle this argument. Especially you, Grammar Wench and Katydid, because your knowledge of grammar knows no bounds. You both know who you are.

Give me something tangible that I can hold up for Dan's inspection. Something which will make him utter those three little words I long to hear him say...

"You were right."

And, even better, those other three little words I long to hear from him...

"I was wrong."


Anonymous said...

You were ABSOLUTELY right, Princess! Direct him here and scroll down to where it says "as in rein in..."

Tanya, who also enjoys Elizabeth Hoyt and was tickled to see her on the recent RITA list

Anonymous said...

Yes, you're right on this. But do you mean he didn't believe the explanation at the Eggcorns website? Did you show him the two posts from the Oxford University Press (USA) blog? (

I usually look up such things at "Common Errors in English" ( simply because it's a bit quicker to navigate. But for this question, you get more detail in the explanation at Eggcorns and the OUP.

Meanwhile, you'd better hurry and convince your DH--while you're still right. According to those Oxford guys, in 21st century written usage the WRONG choice ("free reign") is used a whopping 46% of the time.


Writer & Cat said...

Tell him to try to look "reign in" up at And then "rein in". You SHALL hear your favorite phrase!

And if the Oxford duds I mean dudes change it, "rein in" will still be MORE correct and "reign in" will be on par with "ain't".


Teble said...

Thanks, girls, I knew I could count on you. AND, I knew this post would bring Katydid out of hiding! :-)

Dan, are you enjoying reading my blog today, sweetie pie?

(Insert maniacal laughter right

Pat said...

Argue with him naked and you wouldn't have had to look anything up........well!

Leslie said...

When I come to Nashville, I SO want to meet your mom!

I think Dan has to come up with some justification for his choice. How does "reign in" make any sense except for royalty or other dictators.

Besides, you'f got Katydid on your side- who could argue with that? All you need now is Pokey.

Teble said...

EVERYBODY wants to meet my mom--if for no other reason that to see the woman responsible for MY upbringing!

Sandra said...

Well, Princess, I have to say that your blog, and your superior knowledge of grammar, came along at the most perfect time! I was busy writing...well, editing actually...when I came upon the very phrase in question: my character had "reigned in" something! It jumped at me from the page and screamed, "No! This is wrong!" I searched for some internet verification and stumbled on your marvelous blog. Good to know we were both right. =) I will return later tonight to check out the rest - it looks amazing. I have a travel blog, of sorts, giving my account of our fabulous sixteen days in Ireland this past spring, if you're interested. You can check it out at Thanks for being there when I needed you!