[ gawnt-lit, gahnt- ]
/ ˈgɔnt lɪt, ˈgɑnt- /

noun Also gantlet (for defs 1, 2, 4).

a former punishment, chiefly military, in which the offender was made to run between two rows of men who struck at him with switches or weapons as he passed.
the two rows of men administering this punishment.
an attack from two or all sides.
trying conditions; an ordeal.

verb (used with object)

Nearby words

  1. gaum,
  2. gaumless,
  3. gaun,
  4. gaunt,
  5. gaunt, john of,
  6. gauntlet bandage,
  7. gauntry,
  8. gaup,
  9. gaur,
  10. gause's law


    run the gauntlet, to suffer severe criticism or tribulation.

Origin of gauntlet

First recorded in 1670–80; alteration of gantlope Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for run the gauntlet




/ (ˈɡɔːntlɪt) /


a medieval armoured leather glove
a heavy glove with a long cuff
take up the gauntlet to accept a challenge
throw down the gauntlet to offer a challenge

Word Origin for gauntlet

C15: from Old French gantelet, diminutive of gant glove, of Germanic origin


/ (ˈɡɔːntlɪt) /


a punishment in which the victim is forced to run between two rows of men who strike at him as he passes: formerly a military punishment
run the gauntlet
  1. to suffer this punishment
  2. to endure an onslaught or ordeal, as of criticism
a testing ordeal; trial
a variant spelling of gantlet 1 (def. 1)

Word Origin for gauntlet

C15: changed (through influence of gauntlet 1) from earlier gantlope; see gantlet 1

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 run the gauntlet
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with run the gauntlet

run the gauntlet

Be exposed to danger, criticism, or other adversity, as in After he was misquoted in the interview, he knew he would have to run the gauntlet of his colleagues' anger. This term, dating from the first half of the 1600s, comes from the word gantlope, which itself comes from the Swedish word gatlopp, for “lane-course.” It referred to a form of military punishment where a man ran between two rows of soldiers who struck him with sticks or knotted ropes. Almost as soon as gantlope appeared, it was replaced by gauntlet. The word was being used figuratively for other kinds of punishment by 1661, when Joseph Glanvill wrote, “To print, is to run the gantlet, and to expose oneself to the tongues strapado” (The Vanity of Dogmatizing, or Confidence in Opinion).


see run the gauntlet; throw down the gauntlet.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.