noun gam·ut \ˈga-mət\

Definition of gamut

  1. 1 :  the whole series of recognized musical notes

  2. 2 :  an entire range or series ran the gamut from praise to contempt

Examples of gamut in a sentence

  1. She experienced the full gamut of human emotions.

  2. <the actress's work runs the gamut from goofy comedies to serious historical dramas>

Did You Know?

To get the lowdown on gamut, we have to dive to the bottom of a musical scale developed by 11th-century musician and monk Guido of Arezzo. Guido called the first line of his bass staff gamma and the first note in his scale ut, which meant that gamma ut was the term for a note written on the first staff line. In time, gamma ut underwent a shortening to gamut but climbed the scale of meaning. It expanded to cover all the notes of Guido's scale, then all the notes in the range of an instrument, and, eventually, an entire range of any sort.

Origin and Etymology of gamut

Medieval Latin gamma, lowest note of a medieval scale (from Late Latin, 3d letter of the Greek alphabet) + ut ut

First Known Use: 15th century

Synonym Discussion of gamut

range, gamut, compass, sweep, scope, orbit mean the extent that lies within the powers of something (as to cover or control). range is a general term indicating the extent of one's perception or the extent of powers, capacities, or possibilities the entire range of human experience. gamut suggests a graduated series running from one possible extreme to another a performance that ran the gamut of emotions. compass implies a sometimes limited extent of perception, knowledge, or activity your concerns lie beyond the narrow compass of this study. sweep suggests extent, often circular or arc-shaped, of motion or activity the book covers the entire sweep of criminal activity. scope is applicable to an area of activity, predetermined and limited, but somewhat flexible as time went on, the scope of the investigation widened. orbit suggests an often circumscribed range of activity or influence within which forces work toward accommodation within that restricted orbit they tried to effect social change.

GAMUT Defined for English Language Learners


noun gam·ut \ˈga-mət\

Definition of gamut for English Language Learners

  • : a range or series of related things

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a side road used to avoid a toll

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