Word curio icon

Word Curio

September 29, 2020

Word of the Day: Gauntlet

1 CQ

Word of the Day : September 29, 2020

gauntlet \GAWNT-lut\ noun


1 : a glove worn with medieval armor to protect the hand

2 : any of various protective gloves used especially in industry

3 : an open challenge (as to combat) — used in phrases like throw down the gauntlet

4 : a dress glove extending above the wrist

Did You Know?

Gauntlet comes from Middle French gantelet, the diminutive of gant, meaning "glove." (The gauntlet that means "severe trial," "ordeal," or "double file of armed men" is a different word that originates from Swedish gata, meaning "lane" or "way.") To throw down the gauntlet is to issue an open challenge, while to pick up the gauntlet is to accept an open challenge. These figurative phrases come from the conventions of medieval combat. The gauntlet was the glove of a suit of armor. To challenge someone to combat, a knight would throw his glove at another knight's feet. The second knight would take it up if he intended to accept the challenge, in which case a jousting match might ensue.

Aired September 29, 2020

All Merriam-Webster content is available at

  • Recommended Recommended
  • History & In Progress History
  • Browse Library
  • Most Popular Library

Get Personalized Recommendations

Let us help you figure out what to learn! By taking a short interview you’ll be able to specify your learning interests and goals, so we can recommend the perfect courses and lessons to try next.

Start Interview

You don't have any lessons in your history.
Just find something that looks interesting and start learning!

500 characters max