\ 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


Put up your dukes and fight, you coward!

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Earlier this month, the duke also attended the annual Mountbatten Festival of Music at Royal Albert Hall, and Commonwealth Day services with Meghan and other members of the royal family at Westminster Abbey. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Prince Harry Reportedly Lightened His Workload to Be with Meghan Markle as Her Due Date Approaches," 27 Mar. 2019 ACS International Schools was incorrectly called by its previous name, the American Community School, in a Mansion article Friday about Harry and Meghan, duke and duchess of Sussex. WSJ, "Corrections & Amplifications," 18 Dec. 2018 Today the duke and duchess of Sussex are attending one of Harry's favorite events, the WellChild Awards. Abby Gardner, Glamour, "Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Had an Emotional Day Meeting Kids With Serious Health Needs," 4 Sep. 2018 According to People, well-wishers from all over the world have been writing to the duke and duchess to congratulate them on their baby joy. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Meghan Markle & Prince Harry Just Sent the Sweetest Letters to a Group of Schoolchildren," 13 Apr. 2019 No word on the colors chosen by the duke and duchess, but The Organic & Natural Paint Co. offers more than 80 hues, with eccentric British names like Mrs. Wilmott’s Ghost, Yorkshire Fog Grass, and Lords and Ladies. Elise Taylor, Vogue, "Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Are Planning an Eco-Friendly Nursery for Their Baby," 24 Jan. 2019 Charles Edward, who became the last reigning duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha before he and his family were stripped of their titles following his support of Germany in WII, had five children, among them, Princess Sibylla. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, "Queen Victoria's Descendants Still Reign Over Europe," 17 Feb. 2019 Documents mention wild horses there as far back as 1316, and the dukes of Croy set aside the reserve for them in the mid-19th century. Washington Post, "AP PHOTOS: German wranglers corral wild stallions," 27 May 2018 Ganfield, who was medically discharged in 2005 and suffers from visual impairment and epilepsy, says the duke and duchess will make perfect parents. Omid Scobie, Harper's BAZAAR, "Prince Harry & Duchess Meghan Share Baby Joy at Event Close to Harry's Heart," 8 Feb. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Professional and recreational teams of locals and foreigners who have taken a liking to the sport duke it out in a series of races that lasts most of the day. Amy Gunia, Time, "Google Doodle Celebrates Asia's Dragon Boat Festival. Here's What to Know," 7 June 2019 In conventional politics, this kind of anti-immigration, race-baiting message is expected of a Republican primary, where candidates duke it out to prove their allegiance to Trump. Tara Golshan, Vox, "Donald Trump’s race-baiting closing argument going into Election Day, explained," 2 Nov. 2018 To make things more interesting, CBS has hand-selected some of the most memorable duos from reality TV to duke it out in the same competition. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "'Amazing Race' 2019 Has SO Many Shocking Twists (Like the 'Big Brother' and 'Survivor' Crossover)," 17 Apr. 2019 Everyone’s favorite judges are back to consider a crop of amateur (aka terrible) bakers who duke it out for a prize of $10,000. Michaela Bechler, Vogue, "The Best Holiday Specials to Watch (and Stream) Now," 7 Dec. 2018 More Oscars Coverage The campaigns are managed by an army of awards-season consultants, who duke it out year after year. Erich Schwartzel, WSJ, "Is an Oscar Campaign Worth the Time and Money?," 22 Feb. 2019 Alumni from Gonzaga, St. Mary's, Utah and Air Force will duke it out for a spot in the final sixteen. Tim Hackett, SI.com, "Jimmer Fredette, Matt Barnes Headline Deep Fields For Fifth Annual TBT," 5 June 2018 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

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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Dictionary Entries near duke






duke's coronet

duked up

Statistics for duke

Last Updated

13 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for duke

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

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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

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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