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).

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