Here’s another post at tor.com, this one by Judith Tarr: Those Handy Equestrian Metaphors
Peeve here reminds me to note that in our essentially horseless society, a particular set of metaphors has slipped loose from its original meaning and caught hold of another that still makes sense. Sort of.
To wit: free rein and its converse, to rein in.
Now even otherwise well-educated writers and editors believe it’s free reign and, by apparent extension, reign in.
Quite right. This is one I’ve noticed more than once, and I do wish people knew where the terms came from and what they’re supposed to mean. Then this mistake would be impossible.
Others that seem especially common and that I have seen recently:
site / cite
phase / faze
peek / peak
Speaking as someone who routinely types random homophones ALL THE TIME, especially when tired, it’s nice to catch this sort of thing and fix it before you hit “post,” especially if you’re trying to make a serious point about something. It’s just hard to take someone seriously when they type “phased” when they meant “fazed,” even if their point is otherwise persuasive.
Anyway, that’s not really Judith Tarr’s point. She’s pointing out that you shouldn’t use metaphors that don’t fit the world you’ve developed, so if you have no horses, there are a bunch of metaphors that don’t work for that world. Good point, and I’m sure that happens, but I’m not sure I’ve seen this problem very often. Or at least, I haven’t noticed it. Can anyone think off hand of a time when you DID notice a misused, inappropriate metaphor that didn’t fit the world the author had created?