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In her blog post introducing Blog Overflow, the estimable Rebecca Chernoff committed the following, uh, sentence:

Have someone driving the reigns.

After cringing (read: screaming in pain) and posting a comment to gently point out the error (read: ranting and raving), I started having second thoughts. Clearly, Rebecca knows how to write. Clearly, she knows what reign means, and that reins are the agents, not the objects, of driving. So maybe this is a deliberate mistake, something along the lines of "Six degrees of Kevin Bacon" or (somewhat controversially) "Could care less".

Is this/can this be interpreted as a deliberate mashup of "holding the reins" and "driving the car" and "reigning"?

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Sounds like a mixed metaphor to me, which is definitely a device that is used as humor (sometimes), though I wouldn't compare it to "could care less" as I'm not sure that's ever really funny as a result of purposeful intent. I've heard mixed metaphors such as "skating on hot water". – NickC Jun 24 '11 at 1:04
This reminds me of one of the most tooth-grinding-inducing misspellings that I know of: "reign in spending". – JeffSahol Jun 24 '11 at 17:22
up vote 3 down vote accepted

I don't believe this is a deliberate mistake, because Rebecca Chernoff corrected her blog:

•Have someone holding the reins. This person doesn’t need to be the one writing all the posts, just someone that helps coordinate who is writing what and when it is getting posted.

In short, I think it was a typo!

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+1 Just noticed this myself. Although I can see "driving the reigns" catching on, now :) – NickC Jun 24 '11 at 1:08
Oh, dear. What have I started? – Marthaª Jun 24 '11 at 1:35
Never mind, at least you gave me information regarding the blogs... – Thursagen Jun 24 '11 at 3:16

While I am not privy to the author's state of mind, my guess would be that the awkwardly mixed metaphor was deliberate and the misspelling was a momentary lapse. It happens to the best of us -- I used "your" for "you're" for the very first time in my life (and I've been writing for about forty-seven years now) three days ago, on the public intarwebs, in a non-editable context and with my real name attached for posterity.

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Your kidding! How embarrassing. ;) – NickC Jun 24 '11 at 1:08
@Renesis: I really should thwack you, but (a) it's not, technically, a pun, and (b) I'm laughing too hard to grab the ruler. :D – Marthaª Jun 24 '11 at 1:34
@Martha - you disapprove of paronomasiacs? We really can't help it, you know, and there are know known drugs that don't make our condition worse. We especially transcend dental medication. – bye Jun 24 '11 at 1:52
@Stan, see, now that gets a resounding THWACK!!! – Marthaª Jun 24 '11 at 2:08
Geez, Louise, another slip. "Know" for "no". Dementia isn't as much fun as they said it would be in the brochure. I wouldn't mind if I couldn't notice it... – bye Jun 24 '11 at 2:11

Mixed (or inverted) metaphors are sometimes used for emphasis. For instance, instead of saying "The early bird catches the worm," a colleague once raised eyebrows by saying "The early worm catches the bird."

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