\ 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

Each boat, personally selected by the duke and duchess, represents one charity. Chelsey Sanchez, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kate Middleton and Prince William Will Be Joined By So Many Celebs at The King's Cup," 2 Aug. 2019 At the same time, Vidal wrote that the duke’s announcement about having two children misses a major point made by Goodall and other leading conservationists. Martha Ross, The Mercury News, "After controversial Google summit, Prince Harry criticized for saying he’ll just have two kids for the sake of planet," 2 Aug. 2019 Much of the art, especially the paintings and sculpture from the time the dukes ruled, has a local storyline. Brian T. Allen, National Review, "Dijon’s Masterpiece of a Museum, Brilliantly Renovated," 20 July 2019 Considering long shorts are giving daisy dukes a run for their money this summer, this short suit trend is right on time. Nandi Howard, Essence, "How To Wear This Summers Biggest Trend," 12 July 2019 The duke and duchess of Sussex received a variety of gifts from the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox on June 29. The Washington Post, The Mercury News, "Meghan Markle, Prince Harry get dueling onesies from Red Sox, Yankees," 30 June 2019 Her father, the duke, was a music-loving bon viveur with notably liberal views that filtered down to his children. National Geographic, "Life for this Bavarian princess was no fairy tale," 14 May 2019 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

While the bulk of contenders duke it out to secure playoff spots, the Tampa Bay Lightning sit comfortably atop the NHL with nothing left to play for. Stephen Whyno, The Seattle Times, "Schedule helps Lightning keep focus after Presidents’ Trophy," 24 Mar. 2019 The magazine pointed out the hypocrisy of presidents, skewered uncritical patriotism and published iconic cartoons like Spy vs. Spy, in which two agents duke it out, seemingly with no higher purpose than ensuring the destruction of the other. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "Last Laugh: ‘MAD’ Magazine Will Soon Disappear from Newsstands," 9 July 2019 The drama-free (and our favorite to win it all) Pilot Pete snagged a rose during the initial portion, leaving Garrett and Luke to duke it out for the remaining stem. Ben Flanagan | Bflanagan@al.com, al.com, "Faith at the forefront of Hannah and Luke P’s connection on ‘The Bachelorette’," 2 July 2019 Held annually at the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma, California, the competition gathered 19 dogs — most of whom are rescues and adoptees — to duke it out for the dubious honor. Joshua Bote, USA TODAY, "A very good boy named Scamp the Tramp wins World's Ugliest Dog 2019," 24 June 2019 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

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

8 Aug 2019

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Time Traveler for duke

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

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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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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

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).


a period when something is suspended

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