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[gam-uh t] /ˈgæm ət/
the entire scale or range:
the gamut of dramatic emotion from grief to joy.
  1. the whole series of recognized musical notes.
  2. the major scale.
late Middle English
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 confused
gambit, gamut, gantlet, gauntlet.
1. sweep, breadth, scope, reach, extent, field. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for gamut
  • Western hats run the gamut from denim and straw to the finest beaver fur.
  • I'm glad to see that human behavior runs the full gamut in higher education.
  • Such deals often deploy the gamut of Internet-advertising techniques.
  • The decor runs the gamut of ultra simple to ultra chic.
  • The rest run the gamut from mildy dissatisfied to fairly happy.
  • The arguments run the gamut.
  • This collection of witch stories runs the gamut form tedious to thought-provoking to haunting.
  • Image quality runs the gamut.
  • They laugh, they get a little testy at times and then a little disappointed, but it's the full gamut of the emotional spectrum.
  • Their guide to museums and exhibitions runs the gamut from art to houseboats.
British Dictionary definitions for gamut


entire range or scale, as of emotions
  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
(physics) the range of chromaticities that can be obtained by mixing three colours
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 resonare fibris, Mira gestorum famuli tuorum, Solve polluti labi reatum, Sancte Iohannes
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
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Contemporary definitions for gamut

the full range or compass of something; a range from one extreme to the other

Word Origin

Medieval Latin gamma 'G' + ut 'lowest note''s 21st Century Lexicon
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Word Origin and History for gamut

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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gamut in Technology

The gamut of a monitor is the set of colours it can display. There are some colours which can't be made up of a mixture of red, green and blue phosphor emissions and so can't be displayed by any monitor.

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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Encyclopedia Article for gamut

in music, the full range of pitches in a musical system; also, the compass of a particular instrument or voice. The word originated with the medieval monk Guido of Arezzo (d. 1050) to identify his system of solmization, i.e., of using syllables to denote musical tones in a scale. Thus, to render in syllables the six tones of the hexatonic scale that prevailed, Guido started with the lowest tone recognized in medieval music theory, the second G below middle C, or gamma. For this note he selected the syllable ut from the hymn "Ut queant laxis" and for the ascending tones used the syllables re, mi, fa, sol, and la. Since Guido and his successors conceived musical theory in terms of overlapping hexachords rather than the diatonic scale, the syllable ut could represent any of the three pitches capable of sustaining the overlapping hexachords that made up the system; these were C, F, and G. While ut might vary, there was only one gamma-ut.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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