\ 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

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 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 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

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

26 Dec 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

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 gather or build up little by little

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Homophone Quiz

  • three-bears-two-of-them-look-like-theyre-whispering-to-a-third-bear-who-looks-chuffed-to-be-the-center-of-attention
  • In order to judge how people felt, the senator's office hired a firm to take a ______.
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


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!