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Throw down the gauntlet

Posted by ESC on October 12, 2000

In Reply to: Gauntlet posted by Eddie on October 12, 2000

: I must be blind as a bat, but I couldn't find the meaning to the phrase "throw down the gauntlet", even tho it's listed in phrase finder. Does it mean to issue a challenge? Any prompt replies will be appreciated.

THROW DOWN THE GAUNTLET - "The English language contains two wholly different words spelled and pronounced gauntlet. The gauntlet in this expression means glove derives from the medieval French gauntlet, 'a little glove.' Knights of the age of chivalry, though not as noble as they seem in romances, did play by certain rules. When one knight wanted to cross swords with another, he issued a challenge by throwing down his mailed glove, or gauntlet, and his challenge was accepted if the other knight picked up the metal-plated leather glove. This custom gave us the expression 'to throw down the gauntlet,' 'to make a serious challenge." The other meaning of "gauntlet," as in "run the gauntlet," is derived from "the Swedish word gattloppe, from 'gat,' 'a narrow path,' and 'loppe, 'run'." "Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 1997)

For a discussion of "run the gauntlet" see the 10/9/00.