Great story in the Chicago Tribune this morning about how readers flooded the newsroom with letters about the use of “gantlet” in a headline. The Trib says that Webster’s — and by extension, AP — prefers “gantlet” to describe running between two obstacles, which is what the headline alluded to, and “gauntlet” when a challenge is being issued. This is explained in an editor’s footnote to the original piece, but the paper seems to conclude in today’s analysis that it should have broken with AP to follow common usage.
I honestly had no idea “gantlet” existed, so I wouldn’t even have thought to look it up. But I might have sided with AP and Webster’s, too. As an editor, you always want to tread carefully on the slippery slope of common usage. On the other hand, if I have a feeling something will be perceived as a typo (especially in a headline!), I try to avoid it. It’s a tough call. In any case, it’s fun to see readers get riled up about spelling.