To Run The Gauntlet

This phrase means to risk danger, or to lay oneself open to strong criticism. ‘Gauntlet’ comes from the Swedish gantlope and later gata. meaning a way or passage. Originally to run the gauntlet referred to a form of military punishment meted out to sailors and soldiers, in which the victim was forced to run between a passageway formed by two long rows of men facing each other. Each man was armed with a rope end or stick and would deal as many harsh blows as possible. The punishment was also used at one time in English boarding schools, where the victim was either thumped on the back with fists, or flicked, when naked, with the ends of wet towels.

Words by Adam Jacot de Boinod, author of The Meaning of Tingo and Other Extraordinary Words from around the World, published by Penguin Books and creator of the iPhone App Tingo, a quiz on Interesting Words

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