Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A complete range or extent: a face that expressed a gamut of emotions, from rage to peaceful contentment.
  • n. Music The entire series of recognized notes.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A (normally) complete range.
  • n. All the notes in the musical scale.
  • n. All the colours available to a device such as a monitor or printer.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The scale.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In music:
  • n. The first or gravest note in Guido's scale of music; gamma ut.
  • n. The major scale, whether indicated by notes or syllables, or merely sung.
  • n. A scale on which notes in music are written or printed, consisting of lines and spaces which are named after the first seven letters of the alphabet.
  • n. In old Eng. church music, the key of G. Also gamma.
  • n. Figuratively, the whole scale, range, or compass of a thing.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the entire scale of musical notes
  • n. a complete extent or range:

Etymologies

Middle English, the musical scale, from Medieval Latin gamma ut, low G : gamma, lowest note of the medieval scale (from Greek, gamma; see gamma) + ut, first note of the lowest hexachord (after ut, first word in a Latin hymn to Saint John the Baptist, the initial syllables of successive lines of which were sung to the notes of an ascending scale CDEFGA: Ut queant laxis resonare fibris Mira gestorum famuli tuorum, Solve polluti labii reatum, Sancte Iohannes).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
1520s, original sense “lowest note of musical scale”, from Medieval Latin gamma ut, from gamma ("(Greek letter, corresponding to the musical note G)") + ut ("first solfège syllable, now replaced by do"). In modern terms, “G do” – the first note of the G scale Meaning later extended to mean all the notes of a scale, and then more generally any complete range. (Wiktionary)

Examples

Comments

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  • gamut of communication tools

    September 30, 2010

  • So would Tut-tut be the tonic of a defunct Guidonian hexapharaoh. The kind of pick-me-up my mummy used to prepare for me.

    Seriously, that is a cool explanation. Though I'm surprised nobody has yet sullied this page with the quote about the Hollywood starlet whose emotions "ran the gamut from A to B".

    September 12, 2008

  • thanks for this explanation, shevek!

    September 12, 2008

  • Comes from the lowest note in medieval music pedagogy, which was called Gamma-Ut. Gamma because it was lowest octave of the note G, Ut because it was the tonic of a Guidonian hexachord.

    September 12, 2008