run the gamut or gambit

says, “Misusing gambit for gamut is an increasingly common malapropism,” but Bryan A. Garner, the author, lists it at only the lowest stage in his five-stage language-change index. Although the term “gambit” has expanded significantly from its original chess usage, American Heritage concludes, “the phrase run the gambit is a mistake.” We’ll add that “run the gamete” is too, despite that procreative exception. Get a subscription and start receiving our writing tips and exercises daily!


Even if you can't be a professional chef, you can at least talk like one with this vocabulary quiz. A: Yes, “run the gambit” is on the loose, but “run the gamut” is much more popular in the Corpus of Contemporary American English, the British National Corpus, and News on the Web, a database from online newspapers and magazines. Extend over an entire range, as in His music runs the gamut from rock to classical. Here's an example: Once the media understood the extent of Harry's dancing abilities, he and Mabel couldn't leave the house without running the gauntlet of paparazzi. You can use "run the gantlet" if you like, but it is significantly less common.). I do wonder if there was a deliberate mistake thrown in as we’ve spent an otherwise enlightening few hours in the company of an esteemed author and wordsmith. And here’s a double whammy from the official record of an April 1, 1959, hearing about freight car shortages, held by a US Senate subcommittee in Kansas City, Kansas: “All the cars that go out to my district, the main industry of which is lumber, have to run the gambit in California, or they have to run the gambit in Washington.” (The speaker, Rep. Charles O. Porter, an Oregon Democrat, addressed the Freight Car Shortage Subcommittee of the Senate Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee.). 2 : an entire range or series ran the gamut from praise to contempt. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Just don’t ask me what day it is or what I had for breakfast-so much for the photographic memory. If I don’t put a disclaimer, people will make fun of my now ugly grammar. On the Ngram Viewer chart beginning with 1800, “to run the gauntlet” is by far the more common form. Two frequently confused expressions are “to run the gamut” and “to run the gauntlet.” Gamut originated as a medieval musical term.

Do you have a suggestion for a future Grammar 101 post? As nouns the difference between gambit and gamut is that gambit is an opening in chess, in which a minor piece (often a pawn) is sacrificed to gain an advantage while gamut is a (normally) complete range. To remember that it's run the gamut perhaps consider the "u" in both run and gamut. Subscribers get access to our archives with 800+ interactive exercises! The word is still used to mean “the full range of notes that a voice or instrument can produce.” Figuratively, gamut means “the full range or scope of something.” For example, a person might “run the gamut of emotions from rage to despair.”. Alternatively, “running the gauntlet” is a form of corporal punishment wherein the person walks between two rows of soldiers who strike him as he passes. Though spelled differently enough, their pronunciation is almost identical because of the schwa vowel sound in the second syllable of both: It's perhaps for this reason that the less common word—gambit—sometimes is used where the context in fact calls for gamut. All rights reserved. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. I had the feeling there was a medieval torturing/execution technique "to run the gambit" where someone had to run the length of a"corridor" constituted by soldier with spears which they would use to poke at you as you came by. The earliest example we’ve found is from Fuad: King of Egypt, a 1936 biography by the Indian author Sirdar Ikbal Ali Shah: “Zaghlul was the popular idol, and anyone who was even faintly critical of his activities must perforce run the gambit of mob disapproval.”. The earliest example for the second sense is from Memoirs of the Court and Cabinet of George III (1855), by the Duke of Buckingham: “The dashing gambit which his opponent directed, was neither evaded with caution nor defended with skill.”.

Help support the Grammarphobia Blog with your donation. Neither one of these is correct if you mean to say that something is all-encompassing. In this case, the uncommon word gamut is sometimes confused with the word gambit.” Although the term “gambit” has expanded significantly from its original chess usage, American Heritage concludes, “the phrase run the gambit is a mistake.” We’ll add that “run the gamete” is too, despite that procreative exception. Feel free to let me know through the comment form below. 2 : an entire range or series ran the gamut from praise to contempt. Also, is “run the gantlet” ultimately correct?

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