gambit, gamut

Gambit and gamut are not similar in meaning, but can be confused because they sound alike.

A gambit is an opening move in chess or in some other situation (e.g. a conversation or debate), or a strategy to gain the upper hand.

  • Ken’s idea of an effective conversational gambit was “Do you come here often?”

A gamut is a scale encompassing the entire series of notes used in music. By extension, then, gamut refers to all the choices or options available.

To run the gamut is thus to go through an entire range of choices or options.

  • The selection of ice cream ran the gamut from low-fat to extra-creamy.

Avoid such redundant phrases as whole or complete gamut.

  • The veterans covered the gamut (not the whole gamut) of war-related topics.

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