[15] Gamut began life as a medieval musical term. The 11th-century French-born musical theorist Guido d’Arezzo devised the ‘hexachord’, a six-note scale used for sightreading music (and forerunner of the modern tonic sol-fa). The notes were mnemonically named ut, re, mi, fa, sol, la (after, according to legend, syllables in a Latin hymn to St John: ‘Ut queant laxis resonāre fibris Mira gestorum famuli tuorum, Solve polluti labii reatum’ – ‘Absolve the crime of the polluted lip in order that the slaves may be able with relaxed chords to praise with sound your marvellous deeds’). The note below the lowest note (ut) became known as gamma-ut (gamma, the name of the Greek equivalent of g, having been used in medieval notation for the note bottom G). And in due course gamma-ut, or by contraction in English gamut, came to be applied to the whole scale, and hence figuratively to any ‘complete range’ (an early 17th-century development).
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   The word for an entire range or scale derives from Medieval Latin, in which it represented gamma ut, from gamma (the Greek letter), the lowest note of the hexachord as established in the 11th century by Guido d'Arezzo, and ut, the first note (now do) of the scale ut, re, mi, fa, sol, la, si. These derive from a Latin hymn to St. John: 'Ut queant laxis resonare fibris, Mira gestorum famuli tuorum, Solve polluti labii reatum, Sancte Iohannes.'

The Hutchinson dictionary of word origins. 2013.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • gamut — In music, gamut properly means ‘the note G at the pitch now indicated by the lowest line of the bass staff’. (The word is formed from medieval Latin gamma (= the note G) + ut, the first of six arbitrary names forming the hexachord (ut, re, mi, fa …   Modern English usage

  • gamut — ► NOUN 1) the complete range or scope of something. 2) Music a complete scale of musical notes; the compass or range of a voice or instrument. 3) historical a scale consisting of seven overlapping hexachords, containing all the recognized notes… …   English terms dictionary

  • gamut — 1520s, originally, lowest note in the medieval musical scale, in the system of notation devised by Guido d Arezzo, contraction of M.L. gamma ut, from gamma, the Greek letter, indicating a note below A, + ut (later do), the low note on the six… …   Etymology dictionary

  • gamut — gàmut m DEFINICIJA sav raspon čega (boja, tonova i sl.) [gamut dramatičnih osjećaja od tuge do veselja] ETIMOLOGIJA srlat. gamma ut ≃ gamma: prvi ili najniži ton na srednjovjekovnoj glazbenoj ljestvici + ut: do …   Hrvatski jezični portal

  • gamut — [gam′ət] n. [ML gamma ut < gamma, the gamut, name used by GUIDO D AREZZO for the lowest note of his scale (< Gr gamma, GAMMA) + ut < L ut, that, used as a musical note, taken from a medieval song whose phrases began on successive… …   English World dictionary

  • Gamut — Gam ut, n. [F. gamme + ut the name of a musical note. F. gamme is fr. the name of the Greek letter ?, which was used by Guido d Arezzo to represent the first note of his model scale. See {Gamma}, and {Ut}.] (Mus.) The scale. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • gamut — I noun breadth, circuit, compass, complete sequence, complete series, extent, length, limit, progression, range, reach, scope, span, stretch, sweep, vastness, whole range, width II index range Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • Gamut —   [dt. »Tonleiter«, »(Farb )Skala«], im Bereich der Computergrafik derjenige Teil aller Farbtöne, den ein Ausgabegerät (Bildschirm, Drucker) darstellen kann …   Universal-Lexikon

  • gamut — *range, reach, radius, compass, sweep, scope, orbit, horizon, ken, purview …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • gamut — [n] range area, catalogue, compass, diapason, extent, field, panorama, scale, scope, series, spectrum, sweep; concepts 651,788 …   New thesaurus

  • Gamut — This article is about color gamut. For other uses, see Gamut (disambiguation). A typical CRT gamut. The grayed out horseshoe shape is the entire range of possible chromaticities, displayed in the CIE 1931 chromaticity diagram format (see below).… …   Wikipedia

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