I am surprised to realize that I failed to cover one of my favorite malformed cliches. I have covered a number in past posts ("I could care less", "it takes two to tangle", "mix and mash") but I failed to cover what is likely the most common mistake, "free reign".
I suppose, superficially, this almost makes sense. After all, "reign" involves rulership and control, and thus "free reign" would seem to suggest unlimited power, but on a deeper level it really does not. After all, reign already incorporates the concept of power and rulership, and thus "free" is an unnecessary modifier.
No, the cliche does not come from the concept of rulership, but rather from horse riding.To give a horse "free rein" is to stop directing its motions, and allow it its own head, let it lead where it will. And that is the analogy being made here. To give someone "free rein" is akin to allowing a horse to direct itself, and thus it is properly spelled "rein" not "reign".
Sorry, not as amusing as most of my rants about cliches and misused words, but one I felt I had to mention.
My past grammar and spelling nazi posts can be read at "Off-Topic: How Many Dimensions Should a Character Have?","I Don't Know What to Say", "Sex and Gender","The Most Unnecessary Neologism", "Biggest Spelling Nazi Laugh of the Day", "Quick Grammar Nazi Note", "Return of the Grammar Nazi: Faux Latin Plurals", "Always Something Worse", "Crimes Against Language and Logic", "Try and Listen to the Grammar Nazi", "A Brief Visit From the Grammar Nazi", "Beyond Grammar and Spelling", "The Grammar Nazi Versus George Lucas", "Ye Olde Grammar Nazi", "Grammar Nazi Comment on Greco-Latin Words", "Why Spelling Matters, One More Time", "The Irony of Lax Internet Standards", "Short Grammar Nazi Post" and "The Spelling Nazi Begs to Differ".
It is hardly worthy of a post of its own, but I have noticed another spelling mistake that has appeared a few times. It is a silly misspelling, but it differs enough from the pronunciation, I wonder how it ever came into use. This is the spelling "luckluster" for "lackluster"/"lacklustre". It is hardly as common as "rediculous", but it is one to watch, as I have seen it appear a few times.