Doug Harris cats22 at STNY.RR.COM
Sun Jul 5 14:46:02 UTC 2009

Is the _free rein_ concept related any way to "horsing around"?
BTW, in KY, I was reminded in a recent conversation with a relative still there,
what kids do often is referred to as "bugging around". Maybe that relates to

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----- Original message ----------------------------------------
From: "Wilson Gray" <hwgray at GMAIL.COM>
Received: 7/4/2009 9:11:08 PM
Subject: Re: Eggcorn

>Needless to say, anyone who learned to read in the 'Forties *ought* to
>be aware of the original idiom. And I suppose that the speaker *could*
>have pictured homeless children running about the abandoned building
>like a horse given free rein, as opposed to merely wandering randomly
>about the building in a manner like unto that of free-range chickens.
>But it's hard to tell, not having the speaker available for
>questioning on this point.

>I'm just happy that the kids didn't take the bit between their teeth!


>On Sat, Jul 4, 2009 at 7:46 AM, Arnold Zwicky<zwicky at> wrote:
>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
>> Sender: Â  Â  Â  American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>> Poster: Â  Â  Â  Arnold Zwicky <zwicky at STANFORD.EDU>
>> Subject: Â  Â  Â Re: Eggcorn
>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> On Jul 3, 2009, at 7:47 PM, Wilson Gray wrote:
>>> From a discussion of homeless children being allowed to wander:about
>>> in abandoned buildings:
>>> "... the only building in the city that allows _free rein_ to
>>> homeless kids ..."
>>> I'm *really* uncertain about this one. It seems to me that this
>>> sorta-kinda-maybe calls for "... allows free _range_," since the kids
>>> are *wandering about* within the building, but, WTF, I wouldn't bet
>>> money on it.
>> "free rein" is the original idiom, but (as Chris Waigl said on the
>> ecdb):
>> Â  As horses and carriages have become rare as a means of transport,
>> the metaphor controlling or restricting their movement with the help of
>> reins has lost its transparency.
>> Â
>> so "rein" has been replaced by items that make more sense to people,
>> in particular "reign" and "range", the latter also in the ecdb:
>> Â
>> searching the ecdm for "rein" will get you both of these entries.
>> arnold
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society -

>All say, "How hard it is that we have to die"---a strange complaint to
>come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
>-Mark Twain

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