(g hard). To run the gantlet. To be hounded on
all sides. Corruption of gantlope, the passage between two files
of soldiers. (German, ganglaufen or gassenlaufen.) The
reference is to a punishment common among sailors. If a companion had
disgraced himself, the crew, provided with gauntlets or ropes' ends,
were drawn up in two rows facing each other, and the delinquent had to
run between them, while every man dealt him, in passing, as severe a
chastisement as he could.
The custom exists among the North American Indians. (See
Fenimore Cooper and Mayne Reid.)
To throw down the gauntlet.
To challenge. The custom in the Middle Ages, when one knight
challenged another, was for the challenger to throw his gauntlet on the
ground, and if the challenge was accepted the person to whom it was
thrown picked it up.
“It is not for Spain, reduced as she is to the lowest degree of
social inanition, to throw the gauntlet to the right and left.” —The Times.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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