Homophones are words that share identical sounds yet carry distinct meanings. While they may seem similar, there’s a major difference between reign and rein as they have distinct meanings and function differently. Other examples include mail and men. However, the meanings of the latter group of phrases are so dissimilar that it is doubtful that they would be confused with one another.

Not many writers would create a character who walks “down to the corner to mail a letter.” The same connotations of reign and rein are what make them so harmful. The ideas of dominance and control lie at the heart of both.

Understanding Reign vs. Rein:

The primary definition of “reign” pertains to ruling with sovereign power or authority, akin to how a king or queen governs. As a noun, it can describe the period a sovereign rules or sits on the throne, as in The Queen’s decades-long reign.

Reign is also commonly used to describe a powerful somebody who is not as regal as a monarch, such as a CEO: She has been leading this company for around twenty-five years. It may also refer to anything believed to have a stronghold or significant impact, such as the growth of streaming services, which was beneficial.

The Origin

The term “reign” dates back to the 1200s in English manuscripts. It comes from the Latin regnum, which means “realm” or “reign,” from the root reg-, which means “king,” and from which the language royal is also derived.

The Examples

  • The queen’s reign has been a time of significant transformation throughout history.
  • The Puritans ruled with strong religious regulations during their reign.

The term “reign” can also function as a verb, signifying the possession or exercise of sovereign power, or the state of being predominant or prevalent. Here are a few illustrative examples:

  • The monarch of England reigns but does not enact laws.
  • On the first day of school, mayhem reigned in the preschool classroom.

The Synonyms

  • Sovereignty
  • Pre-eminence
  • Domination
  • Ascendancy
  • Predominance

What Exactly Does the Word Rein Mean?

The word “rein” has both literal and figurative applications. In its literal sense, “reins” refer to the straps attached to a horse’s harness or headpiece. Usually, a rider uses one rein in each hand to guide the horse. While less frequent, the verb “rein” can also describe the act of controlling a horse or another animal in this manner.

“take the reins” might signify “to gain control of something.” The majority of rein’s metaphorical meanings include control of some kind. Being in charge of a firm entails steering or controlling it. “full control” and “complete freedom” describe the ability to act as one pleases without hindrance. “Rein in” is a metaphorical term that usually refers to “restrain or exert control over someone or something,” such as an impulse or behavior.

The Origin

In English, the word “rein” first emerged in the 1300s. Its root term is retinere, Latin for “to hold back.” Pulling back on the reins allows riders to tame a horse.

The Examples

  • Maintain a tight rein on your horse to keep him from bolting.
  • The filmmaker granted the actor full rein over the role.
  • As he prepared to retire, the CEO handed over the firm’s reins to his successor.

Rein can imply ” a tug on the reins to check or stop the horse ” or “to control or direct with or as if with reins.” Despite having non-equestrian applications, it is most frequently connected to horse reins. Here are some examples,

  • You must rein your frustration and attempt to comprehend where the other person is coming from.
  • For a minute, rein in your horse and pay attention to your teacher.

The Synonyms

  • Headship
  • Head

Reign vs rein: Usage and Examples

Numerous frequent rein expressions do not refer to a leather strap restraining horses. These are some examples:

  • Rein In: “Rein in” means to restrict or control. It can apply to behavior or other behaviors, as well as to horses. Rein has been used both as a noun and a verb since the 13th century, meaning “to control or direct with reins.” It has also been used figuratively for a long time. In particular, it seems that rein began as a metaphor. Rein may indicate ” using reins to make an animal stop” and “controlling something or someone.”
  • Free Rein: This term describes the unrestricted ability to act or choose for oneself. Giving a horse free rein means letting him go wherever he pleases with a light hand on the reins. The term is also used more frequently to describe giving someone the freedom to go outside of the riding arena.
  • Reign of Terror: This is typically used to describe a manager who is unforgiving or does not treat subordinates well. It can apply to management or other leadership roles, as well as to the head of state, such as a monarch or sovereign.

Correct Use of Reign and Rein:

The silent G in “Reign” serves as a mnemonic device, symbolizing its strong association with regal authority and power, such as that of a CEO. Essentially, “reign” denotes the act of ruling. Usually used as a noun, it describes when the monarch or other governing group is in power. Conversely, the literal meaning of rein, which is often plural and refers to the straps used to control horses, provides the basis for its symbolic and metaphorical meanings. On the other hand, this is frequently not the case. When you rein something in, you contain or regulate it. When you have total control, you are at liberty.

In fact, kings, queens, and other sovereign leaders often enjoy full reigns. In this sense, reign often refers to all-encompassing authority and power, whereas free rein typically refers to authority and control over certain behaviors and standards. It’s raining, not reigning down, as in “the people were terrified that the dragon would shower fire down on them,” and that bit about it. This is so because rain typically causes objects to fall from above. Sometimes, the term down is omitted from the expression, as in “Granddad is constantly raining us with accolades” or “rain, fire.”


Rein and reign are hard to tell apart since they are homophones. The pronunciation of the words is unaffected by the silent g in reign. The term “reign” describes the rules established by the king or the royal office. Remembering how to spell sovereign with a silent g could help you keep these straight. The word “rein” will describe horses or holding anything back.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a homophone for rein and reign?

The words reign, rein, and rain are homonyms or homophones, which have similar sounds but different spellings, meanings, and grammar applications.

How do you use reign and rein in a sentence?

We must rein in our expenditures because of our tight financial situation." "She could add her exceptional touch to the design because she had complete rein." "The emperor reigned over a vast area." "The company's profitability fell precipitously during the CEO's brief reign.

What is the difference between reign and rein?

The word "reign" may be used as a noun to refer to "the period during which sovereign rules" or as a verb to mean "to exercise regal authority; govern as a king or queen." "Rein" is a term that can denote "a lengthy, slim strap connected at one end to a horse's bit," or it can serve as a verb signifying "to restrain or direct by tugging on the reins.

Is it free rein or free reign?

It may be tempting to spell "free reign," but this is incorrect. Free reign is the appropriate term. Full rein is a similar expression.

What type of word is reign?

While the word "reign" is usually used as a verb to describe an individual or group of people's acts, it may also be used as a noun to describe the duration of their rule.