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  1. the period during which a sovereign occupies the throne.
  2. royal rule or authority; sovereignty.
  3. dominating power or influence: the reign of law.
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verb (used without object)
  1. to possess or exercise sovereign power or authority.
  2. to hold the position and name of sovereign without exercising the ruling power.
  3. to have control, rule, or influence of any kind.
  4. to predominate; be prevalent.
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Origin of reign

1225–75; (noun) Middle English reine, regne < Old French reigne < Latin rēgnum realm, reign, derivative of rēg- (stem of rēx) king; (v.) Middle English reinen, regnen < Old French reignier < Latin rēgnāre, derivative of rēgnum
Related formsin·ter·reign, verb (used without object)non·reign·ing, adjectiveout·reign, verb (used with object)un·reign·ing, adjective
Can be confusedrain reign rein


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4. obey.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for reigning


  1. the period during which a monarch is the official ruler of a country
  2. a period during which a person or thing is dominant, influential, or powerfulthe reign of violence is over
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verb (intr)
  1. to exercise the power and authority of a sovereign
  2. to be accorded the rank and title of a sovereign without having ruling authority, as in a constitutional monarchy
  3. to predominate; prevaila land where darkness reigns
  4. (usually present participle) to be the most recent winner of a competition, contest, etcthe reigning heavyweight champion
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Word Origin

C13: from Old French reigne, from Latin rēgnum kingdom, from rēx king


Reign is sometimes wrongly written for rein in certain phrases: he gave full rein (not reign) to his feelings; it will be necessary to rein in (not reign in) public spending
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for reigning



early 13c., "kingdom," from Old French reigne "kingdom, land, country" (Modern French règne), from Latin regnum "kingship, dominion, rule, realm," related to regere (see regal). Meaning "period of rule" first recorded mid-14c.

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"to hold or exercise sovereign power," late 13c., from Old French regner "rule, reign" (12c.), from Latin regnare "have royal power, be king, rule, reign," from regnum (see reign (n.)). Related: Reigned; reigning; regnal.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper