Definition of duke in English:


Line breaks: duke
Pronunciation: /djuːk


1A male holding the highest hereditary title in the British and certain other peerages.
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  • 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.
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  • 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)]
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  • 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 Back to top  
Fight it out.
More 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'.

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