\ ˈdük How to pronounce duke (audio) 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 How to pronounce Duke (audio) , 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 \ ˈdük-​dəm How to pronounce dukedom (audio) also  ˈdyük-​ \ noun

Examples of duke in a Sentence

Noun Put up your dukes and fight, you coward!
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Hollywood Another great place for a tabloid-averse duke and duchess is Hollywood. Nicole Clausing, Sunset Magazine, "Fit for a Prince: Where in the West Should Meghan and Harry Move?," 16 Jan. 2020 Then the route leaves the street traffic behind to run through a leafy forest of beech and oak, a former hunting ground for the dukes of Brabant that becomes a symphony of fluttering green light on a spring day. Adam Hochschild, The Atlantic, "The Fight to Decolonize the Museum," 15 Dec. 2019 Otherwise, they would've been styled as children of a duke, after their father, the Duke of Edinburgh. Julie Kosin, Harper's BAZAAR, "Royal Baby Archie Could Have a Prince Title Someday—But There's a Catch," 8 May 2019 The designer revealed his ingenious sneak preview on Instagram Thursday night, keeping things simple with a photo of the duke and duchess of Sussex at the event. Emily Wang, Glamour, "This Designer Debuted His New Collection on Meghan Markle Instead of at Fashion Week," 7 Sep. 2018 As Philip's hospital trip is purely a precaution, hopefully the duke will soon rejoin the queen in Norfolk for the holiday. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Queen Elizabeth Attends Church in Sandringham Wearing a Christmassy Green Ensemble," 22 Dec. 2019 The duke has been hospitalized multiple times since the end of 2011. Staff And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, "Prince Philip, 98, remains in hospital while Queen Elizabeth attends church," 22 Dec. 2019 The duke is expected to be in hospital for several days. SFChronicle.com, "News of the day from across the world, Dec. 20," 20 Dec. 2019 The duke is not believed to have been transported to the hospital by ambulance and entered the hospital on foot. Jennifer Hassan, Washington Post, "Prince Philip hospitalized as ‘precautionary measure,’ Buckingham Palace says," 20 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb That fight comes to a head on Tuesday when lawyers for Everett and energy giant Exelon duke it out in Suffolk Superior Court. BostonGlobe.com, "Everett, Exelon go to war over power-plant taxes - The Boston Globe," 4 Nov. 2019 And the fights duke it out in heightened manner, with the contenders often facing the audience, rather than each other, and the blows flying in slow motion across the atmospheric retro-boxing-ring set. Celia Wren, Washington Post, "Timely ‘The Royale’ comes out swinging," 10 Oct. 2019 When a costume contest is announced, the Scranton staffers duke it out for best costume (can anyone ever forget Gabe dressed as a very tall, very glittery Lady Gaga?). Cady Lang, Time, "The 20 Best Halloween TV Episodes of All Time," 3 Oct. 2019 An unwanted rise in the euro as China and the U.S. duke it out to weaken their own currencies would be a disaster for Europe’s export-dependent manufacturers and could plunge the continent into recession. Los Angeles Times, "Column: A yuan-dollar currency war would do some serious damage," 5 Aug. 2019 While Chick-fil-A and Popeyes continue to duke it out on the internet, a battle for homegrown fried chicken glory will be playing out in New Orleans. Meghan Overdeep, Southern Living, "Alert: New Orleans Is Hosting the National Fried Chicken Festival This Weekend," 18 Sep. 2019 The Illinois Fighting Illini (5-4, 3-3) and Michigan State Spartans (4-4, 2-3) duke it out in chilly East Lansing, Mich., on Saturday for a 3:30 p.m. ET kickoff. Joe Williams, USA TODAY Sportsbook Wire, "Illinois at Michigan State odds: Illini to challenge Spartans on road," 7 Nov. 2019 Need a reason to watch two winlesss teams duke it out on national TV? Andy Benoit, SI.com, "How Aggressive Will Mason Rudolph and the Steelers Be Against the Bengals?," 30 Sep. 2019 Professional athletes to duke it out in footvolley in Huntington Beach (File Photo) The California Footvolley Tournament will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Huntington City Beach, 325 Pacific Coast Hwy. Daily Pilot, "Around Town: Jackson Browne, ‘Star Wars’ headline upcoming Pacific Amphitheatre concerts," 15 Aug. 2019

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

Time Traveler for duke

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for duke

Last Updated

24 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Duke.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/duke. Accessed 26 January 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for duke


How to pronounce Duke (audio)

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
US slang, old-fashioned : fists or hands


\ ˈdük How to pronounce duke (audio) , ˈdyük \

Kids Definition of duke

: a man of the highest rank of the British nobility

Keep scrolling for more

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

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


to express in a more acceptable way

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Intact Latin Quiz

  • roman tablet
  • What did focus mean in Latin?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

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!