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gauntlet

The word gauntlet has two separate meanings.

Glove

Historically, a gauntlet (from French gantelet) was a long, armoured glove that extended past the wrist and up the forearm. In medieval times, a warrior would issue a challenge to combat by removing his glove and throwing it down in front of his adversary.

  • Sir Geoffrey threw down his gauntlet to challenge his rival, who haughtily picked it up.

In modern usage, the gauntlet is metaphorically thrown down or taken up to indicate that a challenge has been issued or accepted.

  • Kathy’s team has challenged ours to a 10K race. Shall we take up the gauntlet?

Ordeal

Gauntlet (from Swedish gatlopp, “passageway”) also refers to a difficult path between attackers. Running the gauntlet means to move forward while being steadily attacked on two sides.

  • Constantly under pressure from her staff and her boss, Nora compared her first weeks as a middle manager to running the gauntlet.