- (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.
verb (used with object), duked, duk·ing.
- 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.
- Benjamin Newton,1855–1929, and his brother, James Buchanan, 1856–1925, U.S. industrialists.
- a male given name.
- 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
“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).