\ 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 Winfrey and the duke are the series’ co-creators and executive producers. BostonGlobe.com, "Oprah, Prince Harry reunite for Apple TV+ mental health show," 10 May 2021 The camera panned to a shot of a bagpiper performing while the duke was interred. Elise Brisco, USA TODAY, "Prince Philip laid to rest in Royal Vault but it's not his final destination. Here's why.," 17 Apr. 2021 He is expected to walk behind the duke’s coffin alongside other senior royals. Washington Post, "Who are the 30 people attending Prince Philip’s funeral?," 16 Apr. 2021 And, as is customary, the entire royal family will follow a stringent dress code when the duke is laid to rest on April 17, during the first royal funeral in the UK since the Queen Mother passed in 2002. Jacqui Palumbo, CNN, "A brief history of Britain's royal mourning dress codes," 16 Apr. 2021 In a final act of mourning for the duke, the villagers will hold a significant gathering, McGarry said. Caitlin O'kane, CBS News, "Remote tribes mourning the loss of their god-like figure, Prince Philip," 12 Apr. 2021 Earlier this year, the duke had been admitted to a hospital in London for an infection and to monitor his pre-existing heart condition. Zoe Haylock, Vulture, "Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth II’s Husband, Is Dead at 99," 9 Apr. 2021 Page became the Internet's boyfriend immediately after Bridgerton premiered on December 25, claiming hearts across the globe for his role as the smoldering duke, also known as Simon Basset. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Regé-Jean Page Won His First Major Award for Playing the Duke of Hastings," 29 Mar. 2021 The monarch will personally respond to messages from world leaders who expressed their condolences over the duke's passing. Bianca Betancourt, Harper's BAZAAR, "How the Queen Is Celebrating Her Birthday Differently This Year," 19 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Midnight Bourbon and the two heavy contenders outside of Essential Quality could duke it out with him. Guy Martin, Forbes, "Kentucky Derby 2021: Post Positions, Morning Line Odds, And Essential Quality’s Tough Fight For The Win," 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, "Need an Angel Investor? Just Open Up Clubhouse," 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, "Watch this Phoenix cannabis chef compete on Food Network's first-ever 'Chopped 420'," 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, "‘Rambo’, Dallas Empire feel improvement despite 3-1 loss to Toronto Ultra," 11 Apr. 2021 Then after months of hacky melodramas, badly done biopics and nonsensical thrillers, December arrives and Lifetime, the Hallmark Channel and Netflix duke it out in their own bid to be Christmas number one with a slate of festive films. Yomi Adegoke, refinery29.com, "Lifetime Movies Are My Pandemic Escapism," 4 Apr. 2021 As for the titular titans, the director had the pair duke it out like real people — or Hollywood action stars, anyway. Clark Collis, EW.com, "Godzilla vs. Kong director treated his monsters like action film stars," 29 Mar. 2021 The main event of the day will still be the All-Star Game -- where the league's best players duke it out -- with the skills challenge and the three-point contest happening beforehand. Ben Morse, CNN, "NBA's best players gather for All-Star Game like no other," 6 Mar. 2021 Stanford and South Carolina will duke it out for the other national championship game spot in the first game of Friday’s doubleheader. Lori Riley, courant.com, "Final Four roundtable: Can the UConn women’s basketball team win it all? Who may thwart their championship dreams?," 1 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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Last Updated

16 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Duke.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/duke. Accessed 16 May. 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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