\ 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

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Other Words from duke


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

Examples of duke in a Sentence


Put up your dukes and fight, you coward!

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Charles Edward, who became the last reigning duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha before he and his family were stripped of their titles following his support of Germany in WII, had five children, among them, Princess Sibylla. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, "Queen Victoria's Descendants Still Reign Over Europe," 17 Feb. 2019 Documents mention wild horses there as far back as 1316, and the dukes of Croy set aside the reserve for them in the mid-19th century. Washington Post, "AP PHOTOS: German wranglers corral wild stallions," 27 May 2018 Ganfield, who was medically discharged in 2005 and suffers from visual impairment and epilepsy, says the duke and duchess will make perfect parents. Omid Scobie, Harper's BAZAAR, "Prince Harry & Duchess Meghan Share Baby Joy at Event Close to Harry's Heart," 8 Feb. 2019 Rigoletto, a hunchbacked court jester to a libertine duke, is obsessed with protecting his young daughter from men. Angela Rocco Decarlo, WSJ, "Merry Christmas, Don Corleone," 20 Dec. 2018 The duke and duchess of Cambridge have dressed their firstborn Prince George in clothing from the White Co. Kavita Daswani, latimes.com, "Celebrate the royal wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry in style with these 12 U.K. brands," 3 May 2018 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Everyone’s favorite judges are back to consider a crop of amateur (aka terrible) bakers who duke it out for a prize of $10,000. Michaela Bechler, Vogue, "The Best Holiday Specials to Watch (and Stream) Now," 7 Dec. 2018 More Oscars Coverage The campaigns are managed by an army of awards-season consultants, who duke it out year after year. Erich Schwartzel, WSJ, "Is an Oscar Campaign Worth the Time and Money?," 22 Feb. 2019 Alumni from Gonzaga, St. Mary's, Utah and Air Force will duke it out for a spot in the final sixteen. Tim Hackett, SI.com, "Jimmer Fredette, Matt Barnes Headline Deep Fields For Fifth Annual TBT," 5 June 2018 Two wealthy businessmen will duke it out for the privilege of tackling Hartford’s problems. Joseph De Avila, WSJ, "Trump, Malloy Play Big Role in Connecticut Gubernatorial Race," 15 Aug. 2018 Now Abrams and Kemp will duke it out to succeed Republican Governor Nathan Deal, who can’t run again because of term limits. Celeste Katz, Glamour, "Stacey Abrams Has to Beat Donald Trump's Guy to Become America's First Black Woman Governor," 25 July 2018 Can’t wait to catch your favorite celebrities duke (or dance) it out? Megan Friedman, Good Housekeeping, "How and When to Watch and Stream ‘Dancing With the Stars’ Season 27," 23 Sep. 2018 Traveler editors duke it out in this week's debate. Cnt Editors, Condé Nast Traveler, "Should All Hotels Allow Pets?," 2 Mar. 2018 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

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

23 Apr 2019

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Time Traveler for duke

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

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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

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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

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


having no equal

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