\ 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 Duke (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 According to The New York Times, fees are estimated at $1 million per speech, and the duke is expected to discuss topics like mental health and grieving. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, 7 Mar. 2021 For example, born in 1510, Alessandro de Medici was the first Medici duke of Florence, and his mother is believed to have been a free African woman, challenging assumptions about what 16th century Renaissance aristocrats may have looked like. Suyin Haynes, Time, 4 May 2021 While touring the indoor facility, both the duke and duchess wore protective face masks. Bianca Betancourt, Harper's BAZAAR, 21 Apr. 2021 Due to current coronavirus restrictions in England, the service will be attended by just 30 guests, those closest to the duke and the queen. Washington Post, 16 Apr. 2021 An English boy’s collie finds her way back home from Scotland after his father sells her to a duke. Ed Stockly, Los Angeles Times, 12 Mar. 2021 Winfrey and the duke are the series’ co-creators and executive producers. BostonGlobe.com, 10 May 2021 The camera panned to a shot of a bagpiper performing while the duke was interred. Elise Brisco, USA TODAY, 17 Apr. 2021 He is expected to walk behind the duke’s coffin alongside other senior royals. Washington Post, 16 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Even now, the craze persists, with Popeyes continuing to duke it out with Chick-fil-A for sandwich supremacy and KFC and McDonald’s entering the fray with new offerings. Reis Thebault, Anchorage Daily News, 30 Apr. 2021 These factions would duke it out to decide the most important political narrative of all: the Future of the Party. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, 7 May 2021 Twelve of the show’s best female athletes will duke it out for a $50,000 prize. Glamour, 9 May 2021 However, the big money comes on the one-year anniversary of Guild’s existence: the RLCS Season X European Championship is scheduled for June 16 to 20, where the top six teams on the continent will duke it out for a $400,000 pool. Matt Gardner, Forbes, 19 Apr. 2021 Midnight Bourbon and the two heavy contenders outside of Essential Quality could duke it out with him. Guy Martin, Forbes, 28 Apr. 2021 Pacific time, a new handful of founders duke it out before a panel of angel investors in a weekly show called Angelhouse. Arielle Pardes, Wired, 21 Apr. 2021 Each hour-long episode features four chefs who duke it out in a three-round elimination challenge with mystery ingredients in each round. Priscilla Totiyapungprasert, The Arizona Republic, 20 Apr. 2021 Watching Atlanta and Toronto duke it out for the $200,000 purse probably wasn’t on the wish list for the Empire. Sean Collins, Dallas News, 11 Apr. 2021

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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Statistics for duke

Last Updated

9 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Duke.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/duke. Accessed 21 Jun. 2021.

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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
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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