October 3, 2007

Usage mistake made twice in the Clarence Thomas book.

"Run the gauntlet."

(Pages 197 and 210.)


Smilin' Jack said...

"Run the gantlet": 20,700 Google hits;

"Run the gauntlet": 203,000 hits.

Google has spoken: the latter usage is correct.

Chris said...

"[E]ach is a variant spelling of the other."

MadisonMan said...

Bad editing.

Ruth Anne Adams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe said...

How is this supposed to be a usage mistake?

Daryl said...

Ann, if anyone actually follows your link, or read's Chris's comment, they will see that your correction is futile:

each is a variant spelling of the other

That's right. Each is an accepted variant spelling of the other.

Further, the term "gauntlet" can mean a large maze. Why? Probably because it was difficult to pass through, much like a line of people hitting you would be difficult to pass through. I'll bet the words have the same origin.

So we've been using "gauntlet" to mean "gantlet" all along.

Joan said...

Notwithstanding Bartleby, I refer you to the 1977 Eastwood vehicle The Guantlet, mostly notable for the scene in which a house is shot down.

I don't come across the expression often, but I've always heard and seen it as "gauntlet," never "gantlet." Never questioned it, either, even though I knew that a gauntlet was a heavy glove. I think if editors had changed it to "gantlet", most people would think it was a typo.

John Stodder said...

Here's one I see a lot more now, in publications that should know better. A sentence like,

"He was a born mediator. He knew how to diffuse every difficult situation."

"Diffuse" is what you do with something you want to scatter about in small particles, like perfume. If you want to disarm a difficult situation, you want to "defuse" it.

As for gauntlet/gantlet, I bet that great Clint Eastwood movie is where the confusion comes from. And I'm sure what comes to mind is that last scene of Eastwood and Sondra Locke trying to get to that courthouse under a constant hail of bullets. I mean, that's what I call "running a gauntlet!"

reader_iam said...

Are we sure Althouse isn't implying the misuse of gauntlet/gantlet when "gamut" would have been the better choice?

She didn't provide an example of either sentence, after all--and, it's clear she's in a playful mood today.

paul a'barge said...


Looks like Kenneth F'd up. Oh well. He's out of Columbia, right? The place that never met a fascist tyrant they didn't like?

Richard Fagin said...

Justice Thomas is frequenly acused of "flaunting" the law by his critics, so we can let this one pass.

Liam said...


OK, Ann. We get it. You hate Thomas.

You can quit nit-picking him to death. All you're showing us now is an obsessive dislike of the man.


Trooper York said...

Denham: [to Pamela Dare] I know what's bothering you! You fancy him!
(To Sir With Love 1967)

Zeb Quinn said...

Ditto what Liam said.

Ann appears to have outed herself as one who swallowed the Anita Hill swill back in the day, and she's been nursing a grudge vicariously against Thomas ever since.

It's the over the top pettiness that gives it away.

Ann Althouse said...

Reader I_am: in context, it's obviously not gamut. But gamut is commonly refused.

People who think I hate Thomas... based on what? You're quite wrong.

Chip Ahoy said...

Run the gauntlet is good.
So is run the gamut.

Run the gauntlet means to pass through two rows of knights in armour hitting you with their metal gloves, like a spanking line.

Run the gamut means play the entire range of whatever.

Throw down the gauntlet means make a challenge, same as smacking someone with a glove.

rcocean said...

Can I obtrude? This discussion about gantlet and gauntlet has me floundering.

I've always seen it written as "gauntlet".

But then, I only learned potato had no "e" in 1991. Thank goodness I follow politics.

Maybe Thomas just dumb it down for us non Ivy Leaguers.

Trooper York said...

I thought the gauntlet is what they are calling Nicole Richie's kid.

Blake said...

The spelling gantlet exists as a variant of both of these gauntlets (in American English--British English does not use gantlet). Though it is usually criticized in the 'glove' sense, gantlet was once preferred for the 'course of criticism or punishment' sense, and some conservative usage writers still recommend that run the gantlet be preferred over run the gauntlet. If you trust these writers, then run the gauntlet is incorrect. In reality, run the gauntlet is and has always been more common than run the gantlet, and there's no good reason, etymological or otherwise, to prefer gantlet.

Blake said...

It is kind of bizarre how Anne's mild comments on Thomas have brought out the right wingnuts for a change. It's almost refreshing.

Gedaliya said...

Wikipedia has a rather extensive discussion of Running the Gauntlet in which it lists "gantlet" as an acceptable alternative spelling.