Throw Down the Gauntlet

Meaning Of Idiom ‘Throw Down the Gauntlet’

To throw down the gauntlet means to issue a challenge to an opponent. 1Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.,2Kirkpatrick, Elizabeth M. The Wordsworth Dictionary of Idioms. Ware: Wordsworth, 1995.

Examples Of Use

“In his op-ed, he threw down the gauntlet, declaring the administration corrupt and criminal.”

“In any debate, the first to speak should throw down the gauntlet, and thus set the tone to follow.”

“Now that you’ve thrown down the gauntlet, we have no choice but to move forward with our plan to remove him from his post.”

Origin

Used since the second half of the 1700s.

This idiom refers to a literal practice during the medieval period, when knights would challenge challenge another to combat by throwing down his gauntlet, or armoured glove. If the opponent picked up the gauntlet, the challenge was accepted. To pick up the gauntlet or take up the gauntlet is also used, meaning to accept a challenge, but is rarely heard. 3Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.

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Sources   [ + ]

1, 3. Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.
2. Kirkpatrick, Elizabeth M. The Wordsworth Dictionary of Idioms. Ware: Wordsworth, 1995.