Difference Between Reign and Rule

Reign vs Rule

Reign and rule are words that have similar meanings. Both of them refer to the same fact of governance by a king or any other authority over a territory. However, rule also has several other meanings, and it is not always proper to use the two words interchangeably. This article attempts to highlight the meanings of the two words to enable readers to use either of the two in a particular context.


Reign is a word that has traditionally been used to refer to time or period during which a king or emperor occupied the throne. When used as time period or duration, reign becomes a noun. However, it is also used as a verb to express domination or control or even influence of one or the other kind as in violence reigns, poverty reigns, etc. History books make good use of reign to refer to the time periods during which a particular king or queen remained on the throne of a territory. For example, during the reign of Queen Victoria, reign of King Phillip, and so on. However, the word reign is also used to reflect the supremacy of a king or queen in royal rule or authority as in King Edward reigned. Reign is also used to indicate something that is predominant or prevalent as in the reign of terror or panic reigned.


Rule is a word that is primarily used to refer to a set of regulations or guidelines that are put in place within a place or aspect of life. For example, there are codes of conduct in different places like hospitals, churches, libraries, schools, offices, etc. that is referred to as rules. However, rule is also used to reflect the authority or supremacy of a person like a king or queen. In this sense, rule becomes a synonym of govern and reminds one of governance. If one tries to differentiate between rule and reign, he finds that a king rules during his reign.

Rule of law is a phrase that reflects the fact that no one is bigger than law in the place. If a country is ruled by a dictator, it simply means that the dictator is bigger than all the laws of the country.

Reign vs. Rule

• Reign is used more for the time period during which a king or queen rules a territory (reign of Queen Victoria). In this sense, it is a noun.

• When reign is used as a verb, it reflects the authority or supremacy of the king or the emperor (King Edward reigned). This is where reign becomes a synonym of rule.

• Rule is a guideline or code of conduct to be followed in a place or situation, but it is also used to reflect the authority or domination of a person as in rule of the dictator or king.

• Thus, one should reign when talking about the duration or time period during which a king sat on the throne of a place.