Date: Monday, March 27, 1989
Source: Diane L. Schirf.
Memo: Voice of the people (letter).
Copyright Chicago Tribune
Three times in the past few weeks, The Tribune has had occasion to print the expression “free reign.” I am going to assume that you and your readers meant “free rein,” which literally means a rider has loosened his hold on the reins of the horse’s bridle and given the horse some slack. In another context, it means to allow someone to do what he will with a situation.
The last time I looked, “reign” meant the period of rule of a sovereign leader.