Can anybody please explain this expression and the reason "run" is there (and not for example run-into) and how this can be related to gauntlet?

The expression has been used in sentences like these:

  • You're likely to run the gauntlet of raucous secondary-school children en route to the nearest shop.
  • ... passes through a gauntlet of raucous protesters.
  • ... negotiated their way through a menacing gauntlet of raucous whites shouting racial epithets.
  • ... battling the gauntlet of raucous crowds.
  • I think this is General Reference, but I can't see how you apparently didn't notice that many other words can follow *gauntlet" in such usages. Dec 14, 2012 at 21:31
  • Simply I took it for granted that raucous is a noun and not an adjective for the next word. I image-searched "gauntlet" to find the most common usage and a "glove" came up. Then it was easy to try to relate "raucous" to something like an armor and everything went wrong. No need to be harsh and down vote my question.
    – shayan
    Dec 15, 2012 at 2:40
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    I'm sorry if my comments seem hostile - I really didn't mean them to be. It's hard for me to put myself in the position you were in when you first needed to search for a definition, because of course I know the term. As it happens, it's not essential to know the literal meaning of gauntlet, but of course you wouldn't have knowwn that. The closevote was just because run the gauntlet is a fairly well-known expression for native speakers, so I didn't see any point in leaving this question open for further answers. BUT things have now changed... Dec 15, 2012 at 13:53
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    ...I now regret closevoting. I'd always assumed run the gauntlet was connected to throw down the gauntlet (where a gauntlet is a stout glove). I bet most people think that, but apparently this is not the case. The specific word raucous that distracted OP isn't really relevant, but I'd now be interested to know a bit more about this expression - how it arose, and how it's perceived by others. So I've upvoted the question. Dec 15, 2012 at 13:59
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    @TrevorD: I think it may now be [have always been?] possible to retract a closevote during some relatively short "grace period", but I couldn't when I posted my last comment, and I still can't. Nobody else closevoted, so it doesn't really make any difference. But it's worth noting that after I realised I'd been mistaken about the meaning of gauntlet in this context, I did actually upvote the question. And nearly 8 months later that's still the only upvote, so presumably everyone else either already knew the meaning or they don't much care. Aug 3, 2013 at 14:36

1 Answer 1


Your answer is in the definition of the word gauntlet in Merriam-Webster:

Definition of GAUNTLET

1 a : a double file of men facing each other and armed with clubs or other weapons with which to strike at an individual who is made to run between them —used with run

In the past, a person had to “run the gauntlet” as a punishment. That definition has made its way into the common vernacular to describe a situation where a person must pass through a group of other people where the other people are at best neutral and at worst hostile.

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    Perhaps it should also be pointed out, as shayan asks 2 or 3 questions, that run the gauntlet is an exploitation of the practice of forming verb-and-direct-object-like constructions (I'd argue that constituency tests show they're not true transitive constructions) by dropping prepositions. Often, set expressions ensue - walk the plank, wait your turn; sometimes, the expressions seem less conventional - travel the path. Visser in An historical syntax of the English language calls these pseudo-transitive verb [usages]. Dec 15, 2012 at 17:42

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