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Free Rein

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The expression "free rein" originated as horseback-riding jargon referring to the act of holding the reins (the straps by which a rider controls the horse) loosely so as to allow the horse to freely move along at its own pace and in its desired direction. Figurative use of the phrase referring to freedom of action goes back to the 17th century.

If you are one of those people, we would like to offer a couple of mnemonics to help you mentally autocorrect "free reign" before it becomes an acceptable (yet still illogical) variant of "free rein." First, remember that reigning as king and queen entails having the freedom to choose and make decisions; therefore, monarchs have "free rein" during their reign. Also, there are a handful of other common figurative phrases originating from a horse's rein that you can associate with "free rein" if you have a brain cramp.

As you can see, rein is the word to use when implying holding back or granting freedom of action; reign, on the other hand, is reserved for the ruling over a people or land. "Free reign" might sound impressive to you but not to your editor or teacher.

In summary:Reign is royal authority, the influence and sway of a ruler, or one who resembles a ruler. Rein is the strap fastened to an animal (such as a horse or mule) by a bit, which allows a rider or driver to control the animal. If you rule over something you may be said to reign over it. If you are allowed a great deal of freedom you might be said to have free rein.

When you keep a tight rein on anything, it means you have all forms of control over it. But when you keep a free rein, you give it complete freedom. This idiom which refers to giving a great deal of freedom of action goes back to 1635.

Free rein is one of the several common expressions English writers misspell. The correct term to use is free rein meaning freedom to do what one wants. This expression has its roots in horseback riding.

Suggested donations are: $35/person; $50/couple; $75/family (6 max); $200 for groups of 7-10; ages 2 and under free. Discounts are available for AAA members and military veterans. All proceeds will be used for the care and feeding of the Free Rein herd.

A new law placing broad restrictions on protests in Egypt is a serious setback that poses a grave threat to freedom of assembly and gives security forces a free rein to use excessive force, including lethal force, against demonstrators, Amnesty International said today.

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Although students here have the freedom to direct their own learning, they also have a lot of responsibility. Fairhaven is run as a democracy. Students and teachers discuss and vote on matters at a weekly schoolwide meeting, where they take on such issues as whether to suspend or expel students who consistently violate school rules and whether to allow outsiders to visit.

Most free schools operate under a democratic process, such as the one at Fairhaven, though not all are exactly alike. For instance, the R-rated movies and video games that are permitted at Fairhaven are banned at some other free schools, including some Sudbury schools.

One of the oldest and most celebrated free schools is Summerhill, a learner-based boarding school in Leiston, England. It first opened in 1921. But the concept goes back more than a century. According to Jerry Mintz, the director of the Roslyn Heights, N.Y.-based Alternative Education Resource Organization, a school similar to the free school model was started in the late 1800s by Amos Bronson Alcott, the father of the author Louisa May Alcott.

Some free schools offer classes with a traditional look: A teacher leads students through lessons. Others use a


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