(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. Compare royal duke.
a nobleman of corresponding rank in certain other countries.
duke it out, to fight, especially with the fists; do battle: The adversaries were prepared to duke it out in the alley.
Origin: 1100–50;Middle Englishduke, duc,late Old Englishduc < Old Frenchduc, dus, dux < Medieval Latindux hereditary ruler of a small state, Latin: leader; see dux; dukes “fists” of unclear derivation and perhaps of distinct orig.
1129, from O.Fr. duc and L. dux (gen. ducis) "leader, commander," in L.L. "governor of a province," from ducere "to lead," from PIE *deuk- "to lead" (cf. O.E. togian "to pull, drag," O.H.G. ziohan "to pull," O.E. togian "to draw, drag"). Applied in Eng. to "nobleman of the highest rank" probably first
c.1350, ousting native earl. Used to translate various European titles (e.g. Rus. knyaz).