gauntlet (n.1)

"glove," early 15c., gantelet, from Old French gantelet (13c.) "gauntlet worn by a knight in armor," also a token of one's personality or person, and in medieval custom symbolizing a challenge, as in tendre son gantelet "throw down the gauntlet" (a sense found in English by 1540s).


  1. I'd like to know the grammatical construction of "custom symbolizing a challenge".

  2. I'd like to know if "a token of one's personality or person" means "a token of one's personality or a token of person".

  • 1
    Dictionaries express ideas in few words to save space. In medieval custom, the gauntlet was a symbol of a challenge (to a duel). Oct 13, 2022 at 16:00
  • Token is a different question.
    – Lambie
    Oct 13, 2022 at 16:33
  • @KateBunting Perhaps. The use of some level of dictionaryese may have become a custom. But in principle there is no particular reason for the Online Etymological Dictionary to try to save space, and in many ways this etymology is quite expansive and detailed.
    – rjpond
    Oct 13, 2022 at 16:39

2 Answers 2

  1. Custom symbolizing a challenge is not a constituent of the sentence, and has no grammar.

It parses as the adjectival phrase symbolizing a challenge, qualified by the prepositional phrase in mediaeval custom.

  1. The coordination expands to a token of one's personality or a token of one's person. It is not completely clear what distinction is meant, but I think that it means a token of what kind of person one is, or of oneself as an individual..

In English, with the gauntlet thing, we say:

to pick up the gauntlet [to take up a challenge]
to throw down the gauntlet [to challenge someone]

[The word token is not relevant here.]

This is an action taken by knights as they wore those heavy gloves with long piece beyond the wrist to protect it. They were the "officers" of the lord's men or king.

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