Will Someone Please Rein In “Reign”?

Here are two stories that got linked today through Romenesko, a site where people read about writing and about the state of journalism:

The Daily Beast writes about toxic comments on the Web :

Last year, Gawker Media introduced a tiered system on and other sites, in which trusted commenters would be given a gold star for their thoughtful contributions and, with it, free reign to post

Business Insider writes that the Village Voice “is relevant again” :

[Village Voice editor-in-chief Tony Ortega] took the reigns in March 2007.

Wrong and wrong. The straps you steer and brake a horse with are the “reins.” What a king does is “reigns.”

Gawker did not give each commenter a little scepter and throne; it loosened the restraints and let the comment-writers run as they pleased: free rein. Business Insider’s “take the reigns” makes no sense at all. Nobody “takes reign,” let alone somehow taking more than one. Take the reins.

When copy editors reigned, they were able to rein in things like this. (They also were able to fix muddled figures of speech.) Now, homonym error has free rein.