Two frequently confused expressions space “to operation the gamut” and “to operation the gauntlet.”

Gamut originated together a medieval musical term. The word is still supplied to average “the full range of notes that a voice or instrument deserve to produce.” Figuratively, gamut means “the full selection or scope of something.” because that example, a person could “run the gamut the emotions from fury to despair.”

Gauntlet derives from the French word because that glove: gant. In the middle Ages, a gauntlet to be a reinforced glove, usually made the leather, extended with plates of steel.

You are watching: What does run the gamut mean

A middle ages custom provided rise come figurative expression still used in modern English: one knight would challenge another by throwing down one of his gauntlets. His opponent, if willing to fight, would certainly pick up the gauntlet. From this practice derive the expressions “to actors the gauntlet,” “to fling down the gauntlet,” and “to throw under the gauntlet,” meaning, “to worry a challenge.” Likewise, contemporary speakers use the expression “to take up the gauntlet,” definition “to accept a challenge.”

The word gauntlet in the expression “to run the gauntlet” has actually nothing to perform with the word for glove. It’s a corrupted form of the sweden word gatlopp, which was obtained into English v the an interpretation “military punishment in i beg your pardon the offender runs between rows of males who beat him in passing.”

Early assignment of gatlopp in English were gantelope and also gantlope. At the very same time, gauntlet had actually the variant spellings gantelet and also gantlet. No surprisingly, the words happened confused v one another: “to run the gantlope” became “to operation the gantlet.” and also eventually, “to operation the gauntlet.”

Purists thing to the spelling gauntlet in the expression “to run the gauntlet.” part stylebooks, significantly Chicago and AP, support gantlet, however Paul Brians (Common Errors in English Usage), handle of the gantlet version as a variant.

On the Ngram Viewer chart beginning with 1800, “to operation the gauntlet” is by much the more common form. The earliest quote of “to operation the gauntlet” in the OED is dated 1676.

Bottom line: “To run the gauntlet” is the much more common version of the expression that means, “to run past a row of civilization who room trying come hurt you.” It deserve to be offered either accurate or figuratively:

Political detainees in Tehran’s Evin prison have actually allegedly been forced to run a gauntlet of equipped guards armed with batons.

Kasich, if the is to run a effective race because that president, will need to run the gauntlet the the Republican primaries first.

What is no acceptable is mixing up “running the gauntlet” v “running the gamut.”

The following examples are from published books. The an initial two are from self-published novels, yet the third—O tempora, O mores—is from a significant nonfiction book published by Penguin:

INCORRECT: His emotions ran the gauntlet from calm come sobbing quietly. Mike Holst, The Last expedition Down the Mountain, iUniverse, 2011.CORRECT : His emotions ran the gamut from calm to sobbing quietly. 

INCORRECT: Their experiences ran the gauntlet from “sadistic preferential” pedophiles, to serial killers that were depressive or enraged… invoice Riveron, The Trojan Killer, AuthorHouse, 2011.CORRECT : Their experiences ran the gamut from “sadistic preferential” pedophiles, come serial killers that were depressive or enraged…

INCORRECT: therapy ran the gauntlet native kindness to torture. Deborah J. Swift, The tin Ticket, Penguin, 2010CORRECT : therapy ran the gamut native kindness to torture.

If an adverb phrase follows “to run the gauntlet,” the many usual choices for the preposition to introduce it space past or through:

Farragut ran the gauntlet past Vicksburg’s firearms 28 June.

Men fell ago on either next so that he ran the gauntlet through their ranks.


Want to improve your English in 5 minutes a day? gain a subscription and also start receiving our writing tips and exercises daily!

Keep learning! browser the expression category, examine our popular posts, or pick a related short article below:

girlfriend will boost your English in only 5 minutes per day, guaranteed! Subscribers get accessibility to our archives through 800+ interaction exercises! You"ll likewise get three bonus ebooks fully free! try It complimentary Now

8 Responses come “Running the Gamut and Running the Gauntlet”

Charlie Vaughanon July 05, 2015 6:31 am

Interesting piece.

Actually, i can’t recall seeing the expression ” operation the gamut” used.

I am certain I have actually only read “run the full gamut”, at the very least that is the expression that is in ~ the head of mine mind.

However, given your explanation here, that is more than likely incorrect , due to the fact that gamut implies ” full” !

Orison July 05, 2015 7:14 am

Any error in the following example?

The characters of Mr. Tee who I used to know has actually actually ran the gamut from significant to derisison -He is now a liar! Thus, ns fling under the gauntlet for him to expropriate by going earlier on radio and make correction to all information he gave and also aired about me together they are derisive and also stigmatic to my personality.

David Knuttunenon July 05, 2015 12:14 pm

It is interesting that this intake of “gauntlet” had its beginning in a confusion of two similar words, “gantlet” because that “gantlope”. (In this case, most likely a acquainted word, “gantlet”, pour it until it is full in for an unfamiliar one, “gantlope”.) What is happening, now, is the an uncommon but relatively familiar word, “gauntlet” is being substituted for a much more unfamiliar word, “gamut”. Mistakes of today come to be the usages the tomorrow. No that ns disagree through the conclusion of this post (“What is no acceptable is mix up ‘running the gauntlet’ with ‘running the gamut."”) ns am all in donate of delaying the inevitable decay as lengthy as possible.

venqaxon July 05, 2015 8:27 pm

Mistakes the today come to be the usages the tomorrow.Yes, and there is no factor for the to it is in an acceptable state the affairs. Ignorance is hardly ever a great reason for change. Supposedly, today the general populace is no illiterate and we have thousands of alleged experts writing, editing, and generally making use of language. For this reason such resources of “evolution” room no much longer legitimate. Writers and educated users should be educating civilization away from your mistakes (cf DWT), not embracing and also imitating them.

If *gantlet* is a historical variant and also the “running the…” has actually no etymological relationship to the glove and is indeed simply a product of poor hearing, then it seems perfectly appropriate and advisable to expropriate it. So:

“Run the gamut native A come Z.”“Throw down the gauntlet in challenge.”“Run the gantlet of pen of pen-pricks for misusing gauntlet and also gamut.”

Signalmanon July 08, 2015 2:42 pm

Interesting piece.Strangely , i can’t recall seeing the expression ” operation the gamut” used.

I am sure I have only review “run the full gamut”, at the very least that is the expression that is in ~ the head of mine mind.

However, given your explanation here, that is probably is not correct , since gamut indicates ” full” !

Maeveon October 05, 2015 11:45 am

Oris,“Any error in the adhering to example?”Where come begin?!

Suzanneon October 24, 2015 11:52 am

I think the networks should have a grammar editor to exactly the errors ofNewscasters, TV hosts, etc.

Also, is “run the gantlet” eventually correct?

Willon march 13, 2016 10:18 pm

Thank you, I discovered my means here this evening after experiencing similar “issues” through these two phrases.

I carry out wonder if there was a deliberate failure thrown in together we’ve spent an otherwise enlightening few hours in the agency of an esteemed author and wordsmith.

As a experienced Session Musician, Performer, Composer and Orchestrator the ax “run the gamut” is component of everyday conversation and also vocabulary. To it is in quite moral if you are not running the gamut every time friend rehearse, perform, create or orchestrate climate you are not providing your whole self come the task.

See more: Distance From Columbus Oh To Indianapolis In, How Far Is Columbus From Indianapolis

As it was a tiny group of no more than ten the us, the style of his presentation was more like an open up discussion. It was during this that the writer asked me, “Did I operation the gauntlet whilst performing?” i couldn’t stand up to answering him, “Yes, we carry out run the gauntlet often. If we acquire 2 notes wrong during a power we room subjected to running in between 4 rows of musical directors every beating us rather rhythmically v their batons.”

Unfortunately my effort at humour to be met v a couple of spicy intakes that breath and also has caused a sudden drop brand-new Musicians joining UK Orchestras.

If that doesn’t pick up soon, I have a sneaking skepticism that the next person to confront running the gauntlet will certainly be myself and also going from experience, need to one survive the lunging Batons, Bows, Drumsticks and anything pointy. The final round will be “for the high jump.”