What are we talking about today?

I'll get back to theme days once I find a groove of posting regularly. In the meantime, most of my posts are about some variation of books, bikes, buses, or Broadway. Plus bits about writing, nonprofits, and grief from time to time.

This blog is mostly lighthearted and pretty silly. It's not about the terrible things happening in the world, but please know that I'm not ignoring those things. I just generally don't write about them here.

18 June 2012

Is It Reigning, Reining, or Raining?

By way of follow-up, or perhaps continuation, on my Piqued/Peeked/Peaked post, I bring you more easily mixed-up words. Today, I'll address the continued internet confusion of another set of homophones: Reign, Rein, and Rain.

The noun version of a rein. Well,
part of it, anyway. Source.
Okay, so these aren't confused quite as much. But people still seem to struggle with "rein" in the sense of "curb" or "keep in check"; I've seen both "rain" and "reign" used instead. Especially on Twitter, so I suppose people just keep running out of characters. So, here's (part of) the definition, thanks to Dictionary.com:


verb (used with object)
  1. to check or guide (a horse or other animal) by exerting pressure on a bridle bit by means of the reins.
  2. to curb; restrain; control.
  1. draw rein, to curtail one's speed or progress; halt: The rider saw the snake and drew rein sharply.
  2. give rein to, to give complete freedom to; indulge freely: to give rein to one's imagination. Also, give free rein to, give full rein to.
So if you want to stop a problem before it gets worse, you want to rein it in. Not "rain", which would be meteorologically messy, nor "reign", which would require a royal family. "Rein" is your friend.

Do you have problems with these words? Do other people drive you crazy when they confuse them?


Anonymous said...

Next you can tackle pear/pair/pare.

JEFritz said...

I don't mix these words up much, but I think that's because I don't usually have to use rein and reign. Those are the ones I usually see mixed up in other books, too. It's that darn silent G.

Su said...

@Delores: You are so right. And bear (both kinds)/bare, and... you know, this may end up being a long list.

@JE: 'Tis true. Silent letters are tricky. :/

erica and christy said...

I just finished a book where the author/editor obviously did a spellcheck, but forgot to do a homonym/homophone check. Very annoying!

Alisha said...

The most common misused homophones I see are "your/you're" and "there/their/they're". How do people not get that these are completely different words, and that they are not supposed to be interchanged? Makes me want to slap their grammar/English teacher for not pounding that into their brains ha!

Thanks for this post!

Su said...

@Erica: Yes! I see that all the time! Aaargh.

@Alisha: I've just given up on those words. :/