- (in Continental Europe) the male ruler of a duchy; the sovereign of a small state.
- a British nobleman holding the highest hereditary title outside the royal family, ranking immediately below a prince and above a marquis; a member of the highest rank of the British peerage.
- a nobleman of corresponding rank in certain other countries.
- a cultivated hybrid of the sweet and sour cherry.
- dukes, Slang. fists; hands: Put up your dukes.
- Slang. to hit or thrash with the fists (sometimes followed by out): He duked me because he said I had insulted him. The bully said he was going to duke out anyone who disagreed.
- duke it out, to fight, especially with the fists; do battle: The adversaries were prepared to duke it out in the alley.
Origin of duke
- Benjamin Newton,1855–1929, and his brother, James Buchanan, 1856–1925, U.S. industrialists.
- a male given name.
Examples from the Web for dukes
Altogether, the monks, the Dukes, and the winemakers created a microcosm the influence of which can still be felt today.The Next UNESCO World Heritage Site: Burgundy’s Pinot Noir Country?
May 31, 2014
The Dukes of Hazzard were masters of button-popped shirts, teasingly open.Jude Law and the Great Male ‘He-Vage’ Crisis
May 20, 2014
In one of the biggest “gets” of the book, Cohan interviews Robert Steel, who was the chairman of Dukes?Speed Read: The Juiciest Bits From a New Book on the Duke Lacrosse Scandal
April 8, 2014
Later, the Dukes of Burgundy appropriated the land and vines were revived by medieval monks.The Drink All You Want Holiday Wine
December 21, 2013
Charlene Harjo, a 55-year-old kindergarten and first grade teacher in Denver, said "Obama didn't put his dukes on."Obama Supporters Mourn His Terrible Debate Performance
October 5, 2012
Why, you'd be Lady Casselthorpe, with dukes and counts takin' off their crowns to you.The Spenders
Harry Leon Wilson
The proprietors of the show may be dukes, and earls, and marquisses, and so forth.
It's the Egypt lot I worry about: girls out for dukes, and dukes out for dollars.It Happened in Egypt
C. N. Williamson
Let Monmouth get the law changed, and it will do more for him than all the dukes in England.Micah Clarke
Arthur Conan Doyle
The dukes of Coburg and Hildburghausen were miserable bankrupts.Blood and Iron
John Hubert Greusel
- slang the fists (esp in the phrase put your dukes up)
- a nobleman of high rank: in the British Isles standing above the other grades of the nobility
- the prince or ruler of a small principality or duchy
Word Origin and History for dukes
"hands," 1874, now mainly in put up your dukes (phrase from 1859), probably not connected to duke (n.). Chapman ["Dictionary of American Slang"] suggests Romany dook "the hand as read in palmistry, one's fate;" but Partridge ["Slang To-day and Yesterday"] gives it a plausible, if elaborate, etymology as a contraction of Duke of Yorks, rhyming slang for forks, a Cockney term for "fingers," thus "hands."
early 12c., "sovereign prince," from Old French duc (12c.) and directly from Latin dux (genitive ducis) "leader, commander," in Late Latin "governor of a province," from ducere "to lead," from PIE *deuk- "to lead" (cf. Old English togian "to pull, drag," Old High German ziohan "to pull," Old English togian "to draw, drag," Middle Welsh dygaf "I draw").
Applied in English to "nobleman of the highest rank" probably first mid-14c., ousting native earl. Also used to translate various European titles (e.g. Russian knyaz).