My students and I often discus articles related to their industries or general business topics. Often, interesting or unusual vocabulary pops up and this is one of those. It’s an expression many native speakers use, though not every day.
A gauntlet is a big glove with a long, loose wrist. These days, if you hear the word gauntlet, most people probably think of Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet from Avengers.
Throw down the gauntlet
throw down the gauntlet = give a challenge
This comes from a medieval tradition of throwing a gauntlet down to challenge someone to a fight.
• Our sales manager doubled our goal for this month. He really threw down the gauntlet this time.
Take up the gauntlet
take up the gauntlet = accept a challenge
When someone throws down the gauntlet, whoever picks it up is the person who accepts the challenge.
• OK. If our manager is going to challenge us with a big sales goal, I’m going to take up the gauntlet.
Run the gauntlet
run the gauntlet = go through a challenge / run through an intimidating crowd or experience to reach a goal
Real world example:
• The senator ran the gauntlet through the reporters on his way out the door.
Fun, story-telling example:
• The hero ran the gauntlet past the monsters to take the golden goblet.