gauntlet / gantlet

If you are not sure whether you should throw down the gantlet or the gauntlet, don?t throw in the towel. There are two words spelled gauntlet and both have gantlet as a spelling variant, so you can?t go wrong. One gauntlet comes from the Old French word gantelet, a diminutive of gant, ?glove.? It originally referred to a glove worn as part of medieval armor. Since its introduction in the 15th century, the word has had both a and au spellings. To throw down the gauntlet means to offer a challenge, which in medieval times was done by throwing down a glove or gauntlet.    1
  The other gauntlet is a form of punishment in which the offender runs between two lines of men who beat him with sticks or other weapons, such as knotted cords. This word is an alteration of the obsolete word gantlope, which comes from the Swedish word gatlopp, a compound of gata, ?lane,? and lopp, ?course.? Shortly after gantlope appeared in English in the mid-17th century, the spelling gauntlet began to compete with it, in one of etymology?s many mysteries. To run the gauntlet means to undergo this form of punishment. The expression has a rich history of metaphoric uses.    2
  The gantlet variant of this second gauntlet has given birth to the railroad term gantlet, which is a section of track designed so that one rail of each track is inside the rails of the other to allow trains on separate tracks to pass through a very narrow space.    3