Definition of duel in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈd(y)o͞oəl/


chiefly historical
1A contest with deadly weapons arranged between two people in order to settle a point of honor.
Example sentences
  • Men had to defend their wives' honour in duels and sometimes ended up having to shoot their best friend as a result of a harmless (by today's standards) misunderstanding.
  • Any civil disputes, in future, will be settled via a duel.
  • He quickly apologized, but the rather impetuous soldier demanded that the matter be settled in a sword duel.
affair of honor;
single combat;
(sword) fight, confrontation, face-off, shoot-out
1.1(In modern use) a contest or race between two parties: two eminent critics engaged in a verbal duel
More example sentences
  • History would always lend its own edge to modern duels between these two clubs.
  • Such long-winding queues are not without their liberal dose of verbal duels about who jumped the queue or who ought to pay first making onlookers wonder who is better at it - children or parents.
  • He turns aggressive and a verbal duel follows, shattering any semblance of peace that remains.
contest, match, game, meet, encounter

verb (duels, dueling, dueled ; British duels, duelling, duelled)

[no object]
Fight a duel or duels: (as noun dueling) dueling had been forbidden for serving officers
More example sentences
  • So, after days spent duelling and fighting, I was able to go back and soak in warm mineral baths overlooking the magnificent Tuscan countryside.
  • They made it look easy, and I thought that maybe I could win the fight by dueling like they had.
  • At the time of going to Press last night, the two combatants were duelling in a tie breaker to decide who advances to the quarter-finals.
fight a duel, fight, battle, combat, contend



Pronunciation: /ˈd(y)o͞oələr/
(British dueller) noun
Example sentences
  • The two duellers circled each other cautiously.
  • The duelers were face to face, just a sword length away.
  • Then, at a signal from the general, the duelers unsheathed their wooden swords and assumed combat stances.


Pronunciation: /ˈd(y)o͞oələst/
(British duellist) noun
Example sentences
  • Dueling was illegal in both New York and New Jersey; New York duelists frequented this spot because its remoteness made it unlikely that they would be disturbed.
  • Like enormous duellists, they approached each other with blades whirling and the first time the blades met they shot off a tremendous shower of sparks.
  • Minutes passed rapidly and both duellists ran out of breath.


Late 15th century: from Latin duellum, archaic form of bellum 'war', used in medieval Latin with the meaning 'combat between two persons', partly influenced by dualis 'of two'. The original sense was 'single combat used to decide a judicial dispute'; the sense 'contest to decide a point of honor' dates from the early 17th century.

Words that rhyme with duel

accrual, construal, crewel, cruel, dual, fuel, gruel, jewel, newel, renewal, reviewal

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: du·el

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.