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gamut

[gam-uht]
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noun
  1. the entire scale or range: the gamut of dramatic emotion from grief to joy.
  2. Music.
    1. the whole series of recognized musical notes.
    2. the major scale.
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Origin of gamut

1425–75; late Middle English < Medieval Latin; contraction of gamma ut, equivalent to gamma, used to represent the first or lowest tone (G) in the medieval scale + ut (later do); the notes of the scale (ut, re, mi, fa, sol, la, si) being named from a Latin hymn to St. John the Baptist: Ut queant laxis resonare fibris. Mira gestorum famuli tuorum, Solve polluti labii reatum, Sancte Iohannes
Can be confusedgambit gamut gantlet gauntlet

Synonyms

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

Related Words

spectrum, scale, area, series, sweep, field, catalogue, extent, compass, panorama, scope, diapason

Examples from the Web for gamut

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Gamut cheerfully assented, and together they sought the females.

    The Last of the Mohicans

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • He started to run the gamut of appeal, denial, and anger; but his hearers were inflexible.

    The Plunderer

    Roy Norton

  • His face ran the gamut from white to red, from red back again to white.

    Little Novels of Italy

    Maurice Henry Hewlett

  • Their expressions ran the gamut from sheepishness to blank haughtiness.

    Adaptation

    Dallas McCord Reynolds

  • Wild flowers, birds, and animals also run the gamut of the zones.

    The Book of the National Parks

    Robert Sterling Yard


British Dictionary definitions for gamut

gamut

noun
  1. entire range or scale, as of emotions
  2. music
    1. a scale, esp (in medieval theory) one starting on the G on the bottom line of the bass staff
    2. the whole range of notes
  3. physics the range of chromaticities that can be obtained by mixing three colours
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Word Origin

C15: from Medieval Latin, changed from gamma ut, from gamma, the lowest note of the hexachord as established by Guido d'Arezzo + ut (now, doh), the first of the notes of the scale ut, re, mi, fa, sol, la, si, derived from a Latin hymn to St John: Ut queant laxis re sonare fibris, Mi ra gestorum fa muli tuorum, Sol ve polluti la bi reatum, S ancte I ohannes
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 gamut

n.

1520s, originally, "lowest note in the medieval musical scale," in the system of notation devised by Guido d'Arezzo, contraction of Medieval Latin gamma ut, from gamma, the Greek letter, indicating a note below A, + ut, the low note on the six-note musical scale that took names from corresponding syllables in a Latin hymn for St. John the Baptist's Day:

Ut queant laxis resonare fibris
Mira gestorum famuli tuorum
Solve polluti labii reatum
,

etc. Gamut came to be used for "the whole musical scale;" the figurative sense of "entire scale or range" of anything is first recorded 1620s. When the modern octave scale was set early 16c., si was added, changed to ti in Britain and U.S. to keep the syllables as different from each other as possible. Ut later was replaced by more sonorous do (n.). Cf. also solmisation.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper