- 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.
- gantlet1(def 1).
- run the gauntlet, to suffer severe criticism or tribulation.
Origin of gauntlet2
- 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
- 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
- to suffer this punishment
- 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
"glove," early 15c., gantelet, from Old French gantelet (13c.) "gauntlet worn by a knight in armor," also a token of one's personality or person, and symbolizing a challenge, e.g. tendre son gantelet "throw down the gauntlet" (a sense found in English by 1540s); semi-diminutive or double-diminutive of gant "glove" (12c.), earlier wantos (7c.), from Frankish *wanth-, from Proto-Germanic *wantuz "glove" (cf. Middle Dutch want "mitten," East Frisian want, wante, Old Norse vöttr "glove," Danish vante "mitten"), which apparently is related to Old High German wintan, Old English windan "turn around, wind" (see wind (v.)).
The name must orig. have applied to a strip of cloth wrapped about the hand to protect it from sword-blows, a frequent practice in the Icelandic sagas. [Buck]
Italian guanto, Spanish guante are likewise ultimately from Germanic. The spelling with -u- was established from 1500s.
military punishment in which offender runs between rows of men who beat him in passing, 1660s, earlier gantlope (1640s), from Swedish gatlopp "passageway," from Old Swedish gata "lane" (see gate) + lopp "course," related to löpa "to run" (see leap). Probably borrowed by English soldiers during Thirty Years' War. Modern spelling, influenced by gauntlet (n.1), not fixed until mid-19c.
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.