Stories We Like: A Guide to the Comma
"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).
The fists or hands: I imagine you can handle your dukes, Jim
[1859+; said to be Cockney rhyming slang fr Duke of Yorks, ''forks, hands'']
[perhaps fr Romany dook, ''the hand as read in palmistry, one's fate'']
derived from the Latin dux, meaning "a leader;" Arabic, "a sheik." This word is used to denote the phylarch or chief of a tribe (Gen. 36:15-43; Ex. 15:15; 1 Chr. 1:51-54).