Green’s Dictionary of Slang

duke n.3

[? rhy. sl. duke of york = fork n.1 (3); or ? Rom, dukkering, palm-reading]

1. (US, also dock, juke) a hand, usu. in pl.; also in fig. use; thus dukefull, a handful; occas. an arm (see cit. 1885).

[US]Matsell Vocabulum 126: Dukes. The hands.
[UK]Leaves from Diary of Celebrated Burglar 5/1: Instantly he was beside them, the glass knocked out of her ‘duke’ and she knocked sprawling. [Ibid.] 68/2: On reaching the bottom, I began to ‘sling my hook,’ and had just got the ‘poke’ away from the ‘kick,’ when the ‘moll’ dropped her ‘juke’ suddenly on mine and the ‘skin’ in it. [Ibid.] 106/1: As each ‘dukefull’ was thrown into the ‘till’ an exclamation of complete surprise fell from them.
[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 19 Oct. n.p.: ‘When you go there [i.e. Hoboken] of a Sunday keep your “dukes” on your “dummy”’.
[UK] ‘Autobiog. of a Thief’ Macmillan’s Mag. (London) XL 501: I said I would not go at all if he put his dukes (hands) on me.
[UK]Sporting Times (London) 15 Feb. 3/1: ‘Put up your docks, and slog it out’, roared the witness.
[UK]M. Davitt Leaves from a Prison Diary I 201: He has only one duke [i.e. arm].
[US]G. Devol Forty Years a Gambler 87: I ducked my head, and he hit that. I know it hurt him, for he did not use that duke any more.
[UK]J. Astley Fifty Years (2nd edn) I 142: There were many officers [...] well known to be fairly clever with their ‘dukes’.
[Aus]Crowe Aus. Sl. Dict. 26: Dukes, the hands.
[US]Flynt & Walton Powers That Prey 219: Put up your dukes while I put the cuffs on ’em.
[Aus]Sydney Sportsman (Surry Hills, NSW) 3 Feb. 6/2: If ‘Cripps’ gets that right duke of his fairly on to Alf, he'll think somethin’s doin’.
[Aus]Sun. Times (Perth) 25 Nov. 1/1: His boast of being able to ‘use his dooks’ was quite equal to his best bellowing traditions.
[Aus]Sport (Adelaide) 16 Aug. 9/4: Keep an eye on the old left duke, he hits hard than his father-in-law’s donkey can kick .
[US]J. Lait ‘Canada Kid’ in Beef, Iron and Wine (1917) 153: I takes a rum wit’ a plug hat an’ a frock-coat what’s walkin’ wit’ a umbrella in his duke an’ a cigar in his face.
[Aus]Smith’s Wkly (Sydney) 11 Aug. 15/2: Flash In dook, lugs cocked for the slightest alien sound, proceed to louse the joint.
[US]E. Booth Stealing Through Life 98: He was then working with a ‘mob’ of pickpockets – ‘putting his duke down’.
[UK]F. Anthony ‘Gus Tomlins’ in Me And Gus (1977) 93: Everything where I can put my duke on it at a second’s notice.
[Aus]Townsville Daily Bull. (Qld) 6 Nov. 2/5: Those who know anything about the art of ‘stoush’ and can use their ‘dukes’.
[US]B. Schulberg Harder They Fall (1971) 94: You don’t think I’d send one of my boys in with a bum duke, do ya?
[UK]I. Fleming Diamonds Are Forever (1958) 105: The dealer should have known better that get caught with his duke in the tambourine.
[US]D. Burley N.Y. Amsterdam News 18 May 13: [A]ll you do is bop — her by going upside her head with your duke as hard as lead.
[NZ]R.M. Rogers Long White Cloud 171: Felt as though you were being robbed before you could get your dukes up.
[Aus] ‘Whisper All Aussie Dict.’ in Kings Cross Whisper (Sydney) xxxiv 4/4: duke: Hand. The ‘Hot Duke’ is to pass out the glad hand to a proposed victim of a confidence trick.
[US]‘Red’ Rudensky Gonif 47: Charlie One shuffled off with a wave of his crippled duke.
[Can](con. 1920s) O.D. Brooks Legs 66: Bigfoot had the winnings in his duke.

2. in pl., the fists.

[Aus]Bulletin (Sydney) 7 Feb. 11/1: Bah! go to! pugilistic star, / You’re just fit for that ‘push’ you are; / They’ll feed you if you’ll only kneel – Your ‘dukes’ would never earn a meal.
[UK]Sporting Times 13 Feb. 5/5: A great patron of the P.R., and can put up his ‘dooks’ to some purpose.
[Aus]Bulletin Reciter 1880–1901 79: It ain’t the chaps as flash their dukes that fight the willing goes!
[Aus]E. Dyson ‘Hello, Soldier!’ 31: He slugged a tubby Hun, Then choked a Fritzie with his dukes, ’n’ pinched the sooner’s gun!
[US]Ade Hand-made Fables 178: He had spikes in his Shoes and Rosen all over his Dukes and knew the Ropes.
[US]W. Coburn Law Rides the Range 47: Bull’s no slouch with his dukes.
[US]C. Himes If He Hollers 140: Me and my goddamned two-cent pride, I thought; my cut-rate muscle and my blind dukes.
[US]Hal Ellson Tomboy (1952) 52: He’s supposed to be good with his dukes.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Pimp 118: I wonder if he was tanked up with enough rot-gut moxie to really fold ‘Sweet’s’ dukes for good across his chest.
[Can]R. Caron Go-Boy! 55: We all had our dukes up by then, spoiling for a fight.
[UK]S. Berkoff West in Decadence and Other Plays (1985) 93: I’ve seen you put your dukes through wooden shit-house doors for practice.
[US]Source Nov. 116: The duo responded with the put-up-ya-dukes ‘Punks Jump Up’ from their return disc.
[UK]K. Sampson Outlaws (ms.) 175: Being a bit slow and not so handy with my dukes when we was growing up.
[Aus]L. Redhead Cherry Pie [ebook] ‘Come on.’ She put up her dukes.
[US]F.X. Toole Pound for Pound 21: You gotta stand like this with your dukes up.
[Scot]L. McIlvanney All the Colours 196: [I] put my dukes up [...] like some cigarette-card pugilist.
[US]‘Jack Tunney’ Split Decision [ebook] Whit put his dukes up and faked a few short jabs.

3. (US Und.) a form of confidence game.

[US]F. Hutchison Philosophy of Johnny the Gent 49: ‘I'm entitled to 45 per cent, anyhow, fer makin' the steer. That's what them bunk guys get when they guide fer the merry duke’.
[US](con. 1905–25) E.H. Sutherland Professional Thief (1956) 68: Some years back the duke was called ‘the big mitt.’ It was played successfully on railway trains and in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred the conductor was ‘in’.
[US]D. Maurer Big Con 295: The duke or huge duke. A form of the big mitt played on railroad trains without a store. A mob of three collects marks and fleeces them one at a time in a compartment or stateroom.

4. a hand of cards.

[US]Jackson & Hellyer Vocab. Criminal Sl. 29: duke [...] a hand in a card game.
[US]Goldin et al. DAUL 63/2: Duke [...] A hand, in a game of cards [...] ‘[I] gave everyone a duzey (wonder) of a duke with the sucker blowing his top (frantic) to hipe (up) the ante (stakes).’.

5. in boxing, a decision [the referee raises the winning boxer’s hand].

[UK]D. Runyon in Collier’s 24 Nov. 8: Ledoux gets the duke by unanimous vote of the officials .
[US]N. Algren Never Come Morning (1988) 235: Lefty got the duke.
[US]N. Algren Neon Wilderness (1986) 158: He got the break on an occasional decision, and was occasionally robbed of a duke he’d earned.
[US]N.Y. Times 25 Dec. SM10: Doofus lost every round from the third, but they gave him the duke!
[US] (ref. to 1930s) J.J. Braddock in Heller In This Corner (1974) 177: I started to dance and he never got near me so they gave me the duke.

6. (US black) in pl., knees.

[US]D. Burley Orig. Hbk of Harlem Jive 43: Well, my queen, knock thyself a stoop on thy deuce of dukes.

7. the bill, usu. in a restaurant.

Park East Sept. 20: When it comes to pickin’ up the duke, he’s a fast man on the draw [HDAS].

In compounds

duke player (n.)

(US Und.) a gambler who cheats at cards.

[US]‘Boxcar Bertha’ Sister of the Road (1975) 308: the gambler — crooked gambler. The most common is the ‘duke player,’ the person who cheats at cards or checkers.

In phrases

blow the duke (v.) [fig. use of sense 3 above]

to make a complete mess of something.

[US]H.S. Thompson Hell’s Angels (1967) 43: The editors make no claims to infallibility, and now and then they will blow the whole duke.
[US]T. Thackrey Thief 191: If I’d figured you were going to be such a horse’s can about it, maybe I would have blown the duke for you last night.
[US]E. Torres Carlito’s Way 32: He says you done blown the whole duke.
claim the duke (v.)

(Aus.) to shake hands.

[Aus]J. Alard He Who Shoots Last 80: ‘Claim the dook, Soldier, where have you been all these years?’ [...] Father vigorously shook hands.
crop someone’s duke (v.)

(US Und.) to read an opponent’s cards by some form of fraud.

[US]Jackson & Hellyer Vocab. Criminal Sl. 30: ‘Cropping his duke’ is reading an opponent’s hand by trickery in a card game.
get some duke (v.) [i.e. get one’s hands on someone]

1. of a male homosexual, to have anal intercourse.

[US]E. Folb Urban Black Argot 139: Get Some Duke / Duke Shoot to have anal intercourse, particularly with another male.

2. to have sexual intercourse.

[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 240: get some duke [...] to engage in sexual intercourse.

3. (US black/prison) of a man, to have sexual intercourse with a man who, at least while in prison, is posing (and poss. dressing) as a woman.

[US]E. Folb Runnin’ Down Some Lines 163: Get some duke is to have intercourse with a female impersonator.
grease someone’s duke (v.)

1. to hand over money.

[UK] ‘Autobiog. of a Thief’ in Macmillan’s Mag. (London) XL 502: I went to him, and asked him if he was not going to grease my duke (put money into my hand).
[US]Dly Globe (St Paul, MN) 11 June 3/6: The chap who struck oil must have greased his ‘right duke’.

2. to give a bribe.

[UK] ‘Autobiog. of a Thief’ Macmillan’s Mag. (London) XL 504: Some of the mob knew him and had greased his duke.
[UK]‘Dagonet’ ‘A Plank Bed Ballad ’ in Referee 12 Feb. n.p.: I ought to have greased to have kept out of stir / The dukes of the narks and the coppers.
put up one’s dukes (v.)

to (prepare to) fight.

[Ire]Dublin U. Mag. 34 238/1: But I soon stopped the scrapping fake, for I put up my dukes, / And gave some toppers.
[UK] ‘Autobiog. of a Thief’ Macmillan’s Mag. (London) XL 501: I first met a sparring bloke (pugilist), who [...] showed me the way to put my dukes up.
[US]Nat. Police Gaz. (NY) 16 Nov. 2/2: Gilmore [...] is blunt and straightforward. He can put up his dukes if necessary.
[UK]F.W. Carew Autobiog. of a Gipsey 99: You’m fond enough of seein’ other chaps fight, but you’m afeard to put up your dukes yourself.
[UK]C. Rook Hooligan Nights 128: ’E couldn’t ’ardly put up ’is dukes be that time.
[UK]R.C. Lehmann Conversational Hints 186: The Proser put up his dukes, and let fly with both of them, one after another, at Dullard’s conk.
[US]W.M. Raine Bucky O’Connor (1910) 72: I’m going to teach you how to put up your dukes.
[UK]H.W. Nevinson Essays in Rebellion 157: ‘Then put up your dukes or take that on your silly jaw,’ cried Albert, preparing to strike.
[US]P. Barry Here Come the Clowns [play script] CLANCY springs up. clancy: Put up your dukes!
[US]H. Miller Sexus (1969) 157: Put up your dukes! Give me a crack, why don’t you?
[US]Kerouac letter 16 Jan. in Charters I (1995) 542: Come on Whalen, put up yr. dukes and fight.
[US]A. Gibson I Always Wanted to be Somebody 10: He would say, ‘Put up your dukes,’ and I had to get ready to defend myself or I would take an even worse beating. He would box with me for an hour at a time.
[US]T. Jones Pugilist at Rest 135: My father put up his dukes and threw a few punches in the air.
[US]R.D. Sherlock Drifting to Glory 93: Alex knew we were kidding, but acted like he didn’t, and said, ‘Oh yeah, well put up your dukes, and I’ll fight ya one at a time!’.
read the dukes (v.)

(US Und.) to work as a palm-reader.

[US]Jackson & Hellyer Vocab. Criminal Sl. 29: ‘Reading the dukes’ is fortune-telling by palmistry.
tip one’s duke (v.)

(US Und.) to reveal one’s intentions.

[US]Jackson & Hellyer Vocab. Criminal Sl. 30: ‘Tipping your duke’ is betraying your intention.
[UK]Oakland Trib. (CA) 26 July 13/1: He tipped his duke yesterday when he announced that Jim Pinkerton [...] was lost to the team.
[US]L.A. Times 22 Nov. part 2 6/2: So far, Coach Ewbank hasn’t tipped his duke, but the feeling here is that Shaw [...] will draw the starting call .