Definition of duke in English:

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Pronunciation: /djuːk/


1A male holding the highest hereditary title in the British and certain other peerages.
Example sentences
  • We're all expected to be there, and all the nobles will be there - lords, ladies, counts, viscounts, dukes, duchesses, barons, baronesses, and marquises; all of them.
  • Similarly, the authority of marquesses, dukes, earls, barons, counts, and other nobles had long existed side by side with royal and imperial authority.
  • Since the titles of dukes and marquises were restricted, earldoms became, in practice, the senior title.
1.1chiefly historical (In some parts of Europe) a male ruler of a small independent state.
Example sentences
  • Austria was not a separate country as such at that period time, which was earlier than the modern nation states, and Germany was a collection of dukes and princes under an emperor who exercised a greater or lesser degree of authority.
  • From the seventh century the tribal duke became an almost independent sovereign.
  • In 1236, he became an independent duke of Novogorod during a very hard period for Russia.
2 (dukes) informal The fists, especially when raised in a fighting attitude.
From rhyming slang Duke of Yorks 'forks' (= fingers)
Example sentences
  • She said a custodian at their building noted that when Affinity first moved into its current home in 1998, the women had one of two demeanors: They were visibly frightened or had their dukes up to fight.
  • I've had my moments in the past - fortunately on very few occasions - where I've had to raise the old dukes as a means of self-defence; but I've always used force purely as a deterrent.
  • There are things for which you have to put up your dukes and fight.


[no object] (duke it out) North American informal
Fight it out.
Example sentences
  • They're at it again, baseball owners and players, as if they didn't have enough money, duking it out off the field with a strike date set for August 30th.
  • If the CIA and the White House really are going to duke it out here, it would probably be good for both sides - and for the country - if we at least had a neutral referee.
  • Pseudo-intellectuals and pseudo-populists duke it out.


Old English (denoting the ruler of a duchy), from Old French duc, from Latin dux, duc- 'leader'; related to ducere 'to lead'.

  • The word duke is recorded in Old English, but it goes back to Latin dux ‘leader’, which is related to ducere ‘to lead’ ( see duct). The earliest meaning of duke was ‘the ruler of a duchy’—it referred to sovereign princes in continental Europe, and did not describe a member of the British nobility until the end of the 14th century. See also count, earl, prince

Words that rhyme with duke

archduke, chibouk, Farouk, fluke, kook, Luke, nuke, peruke, puke, rebuke, Seljuk, snook, souk, spruik, stook, tuque, zouk

For editors and proofreaders

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