Hold the reins

A story I was copy-editing a few days ago had a homonym problem. Near the top of the story was this sentence:

Here are 10 ways to get back on track and reign in the shopping budget for 2007.

The writer confused reign (to rule or hold sway over) and rein (to stop a horse or to slow down). The interesting thing is that the story was consistent. Later in the story was this sentence:

This is another exercise in restraint that can help reign in spending.

I was lucky to spot this because, frankly, I have trouble with that phrase, rein in. But I have hit upon a way to remember the difference. I associate reign with sovereign or with regal. That way I can remember that the homonym with the “g” in it is for royalty and not for horses.

This article was originally posted by the Raleigh News & Observer, a subsidiary of The McClatchy Co.; is posted here to provide continuity; and is copyright © 2011 The News & Observer Publishing Company, which reserves the right to remove this post.