noun (1)
gaunt·​let | \ ˈgȯnt-lət How to pronounce gauntlet (audio) , ˈgänt- \
variants: or less commonly gantlet

Definition of gauntlet

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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


noun (2)
variants: or less commonly gantlet

Definition of gauntlet (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : 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
b : a line, series, or assemblage especially : one that poses some sort of ordeal a gauntlet of autograph-seekers
2 : a severe trial : ordeal ran the gauntlet of criticism and censure

Other Words from gauntlet

Noun (1)

gauntleted \ ˈgȯnt-​lə-​təd How to pronounce gauntlet (audio) , ˈgänt-​ \ adjective

Synonyms for gauntlet

Synonyms: Noun (2)

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.

First Known Use of gauntlet

Noun (1)

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun (2)

1645, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for gauntlet

Noun (1)

Middle English, from Middle French gantelet, diminutive of gant glove, from Old French, of Germanic origin; akin to Middle Dutch want glove, Old Norse vǫttr

Noun (2)

altered from gantelope, apparently by assimilation to gauntlet entry 1

Learn More About gauntlet

Time Traveler for gauntlet

Time Traveler

The first known use of gauntlet was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Listen to Our Podcast About gauntlet

Dictionary Entries Near gauntlet



gauntlet cuff

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for gauntlet

Cite this Entry

“Gauntlet.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for gauntlet


gaunt·​let | \ ˈgȯnt-lət \

Kids Definition of gauntlet

1 : a glove made of small metal plates and worn with a suit of armor
2 : a glove with a wide cuff that protects the wrist and part of the arm

More from Merriam-Webster on gauntlet

Nglish: Translation of gauntlet for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about gauntlet


Test Your Vocabulary

Which Word Does Not Belong?

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!