duke (dk, dyk)
1. A nobleman with the highest hereditary rank, especially a man of the highest grade of the peerage in Great Britain.
2. A sovereign prince who rules an independent duchy in some European countries.
3. Used as the title for such a nobleman.
4. dukes Slang The fists: Put up your dukes!
5. Botany A type of cherry intermediate between a sweet and a sour cherry.
intr.v. duked, duk·ing, dukes
To fight, especially with fists: duking it out.
[Middle English, from Old French duc, from Latin dux, duc-, leader, from dūcere, to lead; see deuk- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots. N., sense 4, short for Duke of Yorks, rhyming slang for forks, fingers.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.