\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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Baronet is a rank in the British aristocracy, albeit below dukes, marquesses, earls, viscounts, and barons. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "Everything We Know About Jack Brooksbank's Family Ahead of the Royal Wedding," 12 June 2018 Rigoletto Artist-in-residence Matthew Aucoin conducts LA Opera's staging of Verdi's classic tragedy about a court jester, his beautiful daughter, and a womanizing duke. Matt Cooper, latimes.com, "The week ahead in L.A. classical music, May 13-20: Pacific Chorale, Tesserae and more," 13 May 2018 As the four capitalists in Sarah Burgess’ play duke it out over whether morality has any place in high finance, Jennifer King’s flawless direction makes the minutiae of analysts’ numbers and contracts’ clauses hum with life. SFChronicle.com, "Theater capsule reviews and listings, week of July 15," 12 July 2018 Back in April, a source told Travel + Leisure that the duke and duchess planned to honeymoon in the African country. Elise Taylor, Vogue, "Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Just Came Back From Their Top-Secret Honeymoon," 12 June 2018 Today, the duke has set his sights higher once again and is focusing on the U.S. Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg, WSJ, "From a London Bookstore to the U.S. Reader," 5 July 2018 There’s nothing quite like a prince or duke — or earl — in uniform. Maura Hohman, PEOPLE.com, "Prince William Is Strikingly Handsome as His Alter Ego the Earl of Strathearn," 5 July 2018 The British hereditary title is directly below baron, with viscounts, earls, marquesses, and dukes above it. Sam Dangremond, Town & Country, "6 Things to Know About Jack Brooksbank's Family Ahead of His Wedding to Princess Eugenie," 26 June 2018 The duke, who served as a helicopter pilot in Afghanistan, founded the competition after attending the similar U.S. Warrior Games. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "Prince Harry Just Revealed the Location of the 2020 Invictus Games," 4 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 The logical choice would be to have those two duke it out on the field to determine a champion, right? Will Mccollister, SI.com, "On the Outside Looking In: The Best Teams to Finish No. 3 in the BCS Era," 11 July 2018 With a new long-haul airliner from Boeing and a new narrow-body jet from Airbus, these two aviation giants continue to duke it out for control of the skies. Jay Bennett, Popular Mechanics, "Boeing and Airbus Debut New Airliners With First Flights on the Same Day," 3 Apr. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about duke

Dictionary Entries near duke






duke's coronet

duked up

Statistics for duke

Last Updated

22 Aug 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for duke

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on duke

What made you want to look up duke? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


lying above or upon

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!