Rain, reign, rein

Lesson: learning the difference between rain, reign, and rein

Here is another set of words that sound the same, but their different meanings often lead to confusion in written language because they are spelled differently. Let’s look at their definitions and examples to help us understand the differences.

(All definitions are taken from Merriam-Webster’s online unabridged dictionary.)

rain (noun): water falling in drops condensed from vapor in the atmosphere
Example: Debra’s umbrella and boots protect her from the rain.
Example: So much rain fell the last two days that the town was flooded.

rain (verb): to fall or drop like rain
Example: It’s raining men! Hallelujah! It’s raining men!
Example: So many places turned Sam down, it was like it was raining rejection letters.

reign (noun): royal authority, the power or rule of a monarch; the dominion, sway, or influence of one resembling or held to resemble a monarch
Example: The queen’s reign lasted forty years.
Example: The boss’s last day of work ended his reign of terror at the office.

rein (noun): a line (as a leather strap) which is fastened to a bit on each side and through which a rider or driver exerts pressure on the bit for governing or guiding an animal (as a horse)
Example: The jockey pulled on the horse’s reins to make it go faster.
Example: Snazzy the horse had purple reins because he liked to be fancy.

rein (verb): to move or pull in or as if in response to tightened reins (usually used with back, in, or up)
Example: After Priscilla came home with a thousand dollar necklace, her husband suggested they ought to rein in their spending.
Example: When Buff Buff the cat reached the weight of twenty pounds, his caretaker decided he needed to rein in his overeating.

Test your understanding of this lesson with this quiz. Fill in either rain, reign, or rein in the sentences below. The answers are at the bottom.

1. The dictator’s _______ ended after a brutal political uprising.
2. The horse wished the rider wouldn’t hold the _______s so tight.
3. When the armored truck exploded, it _______ed dollar bills onto the street.
4. In frustration, the teacher yelled, “_______ in this excessive chatter!”
5. The desert hasn’t had _______ in eleven years.
6. After eight days of thunderstorms, the villagers wished the _______ would _______ itself in.
7. With the _______ of the new CEO, it was like the stock dividends were _______ing from the heavens.


1. reign 2. rein (noun) 3. rain (verb) 4. rein (verb) 5. rain (noun) 6. rain (noun); rein (verb) 7. reign; rain (verb)

Erin Servais is a book editor with more than ten years of publishing experience. Learn how to hire her for your next book project: dotanddashllc.com