run the gauntlet


2 [gawnt-lit, gahnt-]
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.
gantlet1 ( def 1 ).
verb (used with object)
gantlet1 ( def 3 ).
run the gauntlet, to suffer severe criticism or tribulation.

1670–80; alteration of gantlope Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
gauntlet or gantlet1 (ˈɡɔːntlɪt)
1.  a medieval armoured leather glove
2.  a heavy glove with a long cuff
3.  take up the gauntlet to accept a challenge
4.  throw down the gauntlet to offer a challenge
[C15: from Old French gantelet, diminutive of gant glove, of Germanic origin]
gantlet or gantlet1
[C15: from Old French gantelet, diminutive of gant glove, of Germanic origin]

gauntlet2 (ˈɡɔːntlɪt)
1.  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
2.  run the gauntlet
 a.  to suffer this punishment
 b.  to endure an onslaught or ordeal, as of criticism
3.  a testing ordeal; trial
4.  a variant spelling of gantlet
[C15: changed (through influence of gauntlet1) from earlier gantlope; see gantlet1]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

"glove," c.1420, from M.Fr. gantelet (13c.), semi-dim. of gant "glove" (12c.), earlier wantos (7c.), from Frank. *want-, from P.Gmc. *wantuz "glove" (cf. M.Du. want "mitten," E.Fris. want, wante, O.N. vöttr "glove," Dan. vante "mitten"), which apparently is related to O.H.G. wintan, O.E. 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]
It. guanto, Sp. guante are likewise ult. from Gmc.

"military punishment," 1661, earlier gantlope (1646), from Sw. gatlopp "passageway," from O.Sw. gata "lane" + lopp "course," related to löpa "to run." Probably borrowed by Eng. soldiers during Thirty Years' War.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

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).

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Matching Quote
"On the thirty-first day of March, one hundred and forty-two years before this, probably about this time in the afternoon, there were hurriedly paddling down this part of the river, between the pine woods which then fringed these banks, two white women and a boy, who had left an island at the mouth of the Contoocook before daybreak. They were lightly clad for the season, in the English fashion, and handled their paddles unskillfully, but with nervous energy and determination, and at the bottom of their canoe lay the still bleeding scalps of ten of the aborigines. They were Hannah Dustan, and her nurse, Mary Neff,... and an English boy, named Samuel Lennardson, escaping from captivity among the Indians. On the 15th of March previous, Hannah Dustan had been compelled to rise from childbed, and half dressed, with one foot bare, accompanied by her nurse, commence an uncertain march, in still inclement weather, through the snow and the wilderness. She had seen her seven elder children flee with their father, but knew not of their fate. She had seen her infant's brains dashed out against an apple tree, and had left her own and her neighbors' dwellings in ashes. When she reached the wigwam of her captor, situated on an island in the Merrimack, more than twenty miles above where we now are, she had been told that she and her nurse were soon to be taken to a distant Indian settlement, and there made to run the gauntlet naked.... Having determined to attempt her escape, she instructed the boy to inquire of one of the men, how he should dispatch an enemy in the quickest manner, and take his scalp. "Strike 'em there," said he, placing his finger on his temple, and he also showed him how to take off the scalp. On the morning of the 31st she arose before daybreak, and awoke her nurse and the boy, and taking the Indians' tomahawks, they killed them all in their sleep, excepting one favorite boy, and one squaw who fled wounded with him to the woods. The English boy struck the Indian who had given him the information, on the temple, as he had been directed. They then collected all the provision they could find, and took their master's tomahawk and gun, and scuttling all the canoes but one, commenced their flight to Haverhill, distant about sixty miles by the river. But after having proceeded a short distance, fearing that her story would not be believed if she should escape to tell it, they returned to the silent wigwam, and taking off the scalps of the dead, put them into a bag as proofs of what they had done, and then, retracing their steps to the shore in the twilight, recommenced their voyage."
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