\ˈdük also ˈdyük \

Definition of duke 

(Entry 1 of 3)

1 : a sovereign male ruler of a continental European duchy

2 : a nobleman of the highest hereditary rank especially : a member of the highest grade of the British peerage

3 [ probably from dukes of York, rhyming slang for fork (hand, fist) ] slang : fist, hand usually used in plural


duked; duking

Definition of duke (Entry 2 of 3)

duke it out

: to engage in a fight and especially a fistfight


biographical name
\ˈdük, ˈdyük\

Definition of Duke (Entry 3 of 3)

Benjamin Newton 1855–1929 and his brother James Buchanan 1856–1925 American tobacco industrialists

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Other Words from duke


dukedom \-​dəm \ noun

Examples of duke in a Sentence


Put up your dukes and fight, you coward!

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The dukes and duchesses were only photographed arriving to the venue, but Meghan and Kate were both seen from their cars wearing stunning statement earrings. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton Had a Private Dinner Together and We All Missed It," 16 Nov. 2018 Much of what the duke owned was lost in subsequent years, including the declaration that would make headlines more than two centuries after his death. Rick Noack, Washington Post, "Thanks to a pro-American ‘radical duke,’ England has its own copy of the U.S. Declaration of Independence," 4 July 2018 Twelve years stranded on an island after being overthrown in a coup that was led by his brother, Prospero, the rightful duke of Milan, has been brooding over his grievances while developing his formidable occult powers. Charles Mcnulty, latimes.com, "'The Tempest' at the Old Globe: Kate Burton casts a benevolent spell as Prospera," 26 June 2018 Prince Harry and Lydia's adorable moment wasn't the only dose of royal PDA that fans got during the duke and duchess's trip to their namesake Sussex. Zoe Weiner, Glamour, "Happy Thursday: Prince Harry Just a Kissed a Royal Fan," 4 Oct. 2018 Geraldine MurtaghElegant IrelandShe has an insane Rolodex—dukes and duchesses, historians, politicians, mountain climbers, artists—all of whom look after her travelers. Paul Brady, Condé Nast Traveler, "2018 Top Travel Specialists We Trust," 19 Oct. 2018 The duke has been fighting AIDS for years, following in the footsteps of his late mother, Princess Diana. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Prince Harry and Sir Elton John Are Fighting Against AIDS Together," 24 July 2018 The duke was an avid reader with a passion for science, religion and learning. Jennifer Hassan, Washington Post, "Prince Harry is the second Duke of Sussex. The first was a rebel when it came to marriage.," 22 May 2018 His story of dreamy lovers split apart by scheming courtiers is also a protest against rulers, like the unseen duke, whose riches are wrung from the blood of their people. Laura Collins-hughes, New York Times, "Review: Pulled Apart by ‘Love and Intrigue’," 8 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

You and your spouse usually hire divorce attorneys and duke it out until a settlement is reached—either by you or a judge. Elizabeth Kiefer, Glamour, "How to Get Divorced," 30 Nov. 2018 Before the general election this November, however, a wide field of Republicans is set to duke it out for the nomination in Tuesday’s primary election, while two Democrats will go head to head. Li Zhou, Vox, "The Connecticut governor’s race, a rare 2018 opening for Republicans, explained," 13 Aug. 2018 Johnny Torres referees as Quantrell Williams (10) and German Pena (11) duke it out. Santos A. Perez, miamiherald, "A phone call was responsible for getting this Hall of Famer back into the sports he loves," 10 June 2018 The men all but invariably offer opposing opinions, then duke it out, absent any real hope of persuasion, for two or three minutes, until the next commercial break. Vinson Cunningham, The New Yorker, "Stephen A. Smith Won’t Stop Talking," 16 June 2018 By the second half, around 60 soccer fans had joined Viola at the Nomad Nacional pop-up bar in Walker's Point to watch Iceland and Argentina duke it out. Elena Weissmann, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Soccer fans gather at Nomad Nacional to drink beer, do yoga and watch the World Cup," 16 June 2018 The two titans long ago branched out from their core businesses — games and social media for Tencent, e-commerce for Alibaba — to duke it out in ever more realms of Chinese life. Raymond Zhong, New York Times, "Worried About Big Tech? Chinese Giants Make America’s Look Tame," 31 May 2018 Or will rookie fourth-round pick Avonte Maddox surprise everyone and wind up winning the slot job, while Mills, Jones and Darby duke it out in training camp and the preseason for the two outside jobs? Paul Domowitch, Philly.com, "Eagles need a slot replacement for Patrick Robinson. Could it be 5-9 rookie Avonte Maddox?," 4 May 2018 While North and South Siders duke it out for Chicago supremacy, West Siders have quietly gone about their business. Michael Nagrant, RedEye Chicago, "A guide to eating your way through Chicago's West Side," 19 Oct. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'duke.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of duke


12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


circa 1947, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for duke


Middle English, from Anglo-French duc, from Latin duc-, dux, from ducere to lead — more at tow entry 1

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Dictionary Entries near duke






duke's coronet

duked up

Statistics for duke

Last Updated

12 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for duke

The first known use of duke was in the 12th century

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More Definitions for duke



English Language Learners Definition of duke

: a man of very high rank in the British nobility

: the ruler of an independent area of land especially in some parts of Europe in the past

dukes : fists or hands


\ˈdük, ˈdyük\

Kids Definition of duke

: a man of the highest rank of the British nobility

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More from Merriam-Webster on duke

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with duke

Spanish Central: Translation of duke

Nglish: Translation of duke for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of duke for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about duke

Comments on duke

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living or existing for a long time

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