\ 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 The duke and duchess moved to California last week before the U.S.-Canadian border was closed to stem the spread of the COVID-19 virus, according to a report. Carly Ortiz-lytle, Washington Examiner, "Trump says Prince Harry and Meghan Markle must foot the bill for security in Los Angeles," 29 Mar. 2020 Even outside Britain, the duke and duchess have agreed not to use the designation. Mark Landler, New York Times, "For Harry and Meghan, No More ‘Royal’ in Their Brand," 9 Mar. 2020 The site noted that the Sovereign Grant, which funds the monarchy, covers just 5% of the costs for the duke and duchess and is used for their official office expenses. Washington Post, "Uproar in UK over Harry and Meghan’s step back from royals," 9 Jan. 2020 The program then culminates in the duke and duchess helping to prepare food for a festive party for staff and volunteers who will be working over the Christmas period. Victoria Murphy, Town & Country, "Kate Middleton and Prince William Are Helping Mary Berry in the Kitchen in a New Christmas Special," 30 Nov. 2019 Lastly, the duke attended the Rugby World Cup Final at Yokohama Stadium, where England played against South Africa. Sara M Moniuszko, USA TODAY, "Prince Harry, sans Meghan, makes first official visit to Japan for Rugby World Cup Final," 2 Nov. 2019 The exact source of the photos remain unclear, but some fans say they were taken when the duke and duchess attended an event at the British High Commission before the formal reception in Islamabad last week. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kate Middleton Wore a Floral Wrap Dress Sold on ASOS," 21 Oct. 2019 And that was no different on Monday during the Commonwealth Day services—the duke and duchess's final event as acting senior royals. Neha Prakash, Marie Claire, "Harry Supported Meghan at Commonwealth Day With a Subtle Fashion Detail," 9 Mar. 2020 The duke also participated in a recording session alongside Jon Bon Jovi at Abbey Road Studios and spoke at a summit for the eco-tourism company Travalyst. Bianca Betancourt, Harper's BAZAAR, "Prince Harry Continues Final Royal Engagements with a Visit to the Silverstone Experience," 6 Mar. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb What to Listen To: Lawrence Some siblings duke it out over petty disagreements. Sarah Cook, al, "Birmingham magazine culture picks for March," 13 Mar. 2020 But Air Force veteran Kim Olson and local school board member Candace Valenzuela must first duke it out in a Democratic runoff to fill out the ballot. Tom Benning, Dallas News, "3 lessons from Texas’ congressional primaries: Incumbency matters. So does Trump. And runoffs galore.," 4 Mar. 2020 Maybe former Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Senator Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.) could duke it out, considering their close finishes in the first two primary contests. Lily Herman, Teen Vogue, "Elizabeth Warren Destroyed Mike Bloomberg in the Nevada Debate," 20 Feb. 2020 Smackdown Eagle and Penguin must duke it out to flap their wings another week. Robbie Daw, Billboard, "'The Masked Singer' Recap: The Eagle Has Crash-Landed," 10 Oct. 2019 The spent fuel resides in temporary storage facilities while politicians duke it out over where to bury it. Daniel Oberhaus, Wired, "Recycled Nuclear Waste Will Power a New Reactor," 27 Feb. 2020 As this year’s Best Picture contenders duke it out in the run-up to the Oscars, one thing unites them all: Martin Scorsese. Joey Nolfi, EW.com, "See how Martin Scorsese is six-degrees separated from every Best Picture Oscar nominee," 25 Jan. 2020 Ultimately, in episode 2, Hannah didn't decide to stay and duke it out with Peter's other contestants. Martha Sorren, refinery29.com, "Hannah Brown’s Final Moment On The Bachelor Could Actually Fuel Those Reunion Theories," 14 Jan. 2020 As 10 presidential hopefuls descend upon a crowded debate stage tonight in Atlanta, Ga., to duke it out with their fellow Democrats, some Americans have one important question on their mind: Again, already? Nicole Goodkind, Fortune, "Will You Watch Tonight’s Democratic Debate? The DNC Probably Doesn’t Care Either Way," 20 Nov. 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

3 Apr 2020

Cite this Entry

“Duke.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/duke. Accessed 8 Apr. 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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Thing: Flower Edition

Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

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!