\ 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

Noun Put up your dukes and fight, you coward!
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The duke helped found the annual tournament that honors wounded military personnel who still persevere through sport. Bianca Betancourt, Harper's BAZAAR, "Prince Harry Posts a Personal Message Announcing the Invictus Games Cancellation," 19 Mar. 2020 The new arrangements under this policy would mean the tabloids would not be given access to the duke and duchess’ photographs or updates that will be shared with other news outlets from the couple’s media team. NBC News, "Prince Harry and Meghan shun British tabloids over 'salacious gossip'," 20 Apr. 2020 Day 36: New idea: rightful duke of Milan usurped by younger brother, cast out to sea with infant daughter to drown, shipwrecked on magical island, harnesses spirits of earth and air, summons tempest to wreak vengeance on brother. Daniel Pollack-pelzner, The New Yorker, "What Shakespeare Actually Did During the Plague," 1 Apr. 2020 Tweed was photographed golfing with the duke just last week. Martha Ross, The Mercury News, "Prince Andrew’s new Epstein defense: Friendship collapsed after ‘the perv’ threatened to sue Sarah Ferguson," 23 Sep. 2019 The duke and duchess of Sussex are hoping to break that mold. Jason Douglas, WSJ, "Prince Harry, Meghan to Give Up ‘Royal Highness’ Titles," 18 Jan. 2020 Andrew’s statement also failed to answer other questions raised by the duke’s behavior, including his frequent visits to Epstein’s many homes, English and Bates said. Martha Ross, The Mercury News, "Prince Andrew reportedly ‘willing’ to talk to FBI about Jeffrey Epstein after critics pounce on his latest statement," 26 Aug. 2019 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 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The platforms are attracting millions of viewers, who use them to watch gamers duke it out in live matches. Olga Kharif, Bloomberg.com, "Microsoft Lured Ninja to Mixer, But Audience Is Barely Growing," 19 May 2020 While the two usually duke it out on Twitter about anything from science to the minimum wage, less than a year ago a tweet brought the two together as allies. Anna Kaplan, refinery29.com, "Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Grills Ted Cruz On Twitter With Her Résumé Of Credentials," 28 Feb. 2020 Compton’s mayor endorses Bloomberg By Jennifer Medina While the rest of the candidates duke it out in Iowa, Michael Bloomberg is stumping across California. Lisa Lerer, New York Times, "On Politics: Iowa Caucus Edition!," 3 Feb. 2020 The relative smallness of AMC compared with its streaming competitors is, Barnett hopes, an opportunity: The network can concentrate fully on quality and innovation while the biggest streaming services duke it out over quantity and scale. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, "The TV Boss Against the Algorithm," 13 Apr. 2020 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

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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Time Traveler for duke

Time Traveler

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

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Last Updated

15 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Duke.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/duke. Accessed 1 Jun. 2020.

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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

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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

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