Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for September 29, 2020 is:
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
“No, Jack answered. He stared up at the advancing knight, and his hand wrapped itself tightly around the guitar-pick in his pocket. The spike-studded gauntlets came up toward the visor of its bird-helmet. They raised it.” — Stephen King and Peter Straub, The Talisman, 1984
“Last week, the California Teachers Association threw down the gauntlet and told Newsom and legislators that schools aren’t ready to reopen, citing the short time frame and the recent surge of infections.” — Dan Walters, The Orange County (California) Register, 13 July 2020
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.