Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Duke

Duke is a title given to the highest of high-ranking noblemen (short of the monarch) and/or a prince who rules a duchy, principality or some other small state or province (such as England’s heir apparent Prince Charles, aka the Duke of Wales). The word “duke” is derived from the Latin “dux” meaning “leader” (form “ducere” meaning “to lead”). In England, after the Norman Conquest, Dukes replaced Earls as the highest title below King/Queen. The female equivalent of a Duke is a Duchess. Dukes date back to the Middle Ages in continental Europe feudal societies as rulers of the provinces overseen by a monarch (although often times in medieval Europe, Dukes held more power, political clout and money than even the monarchs or emperors). Today in most places, Duke is little more than a hereditary title. And it’s not often used as a masculine personal name except for time to time in the U.S. (where “dukes” have never existed).

All About the Baby Name – Duke

Personality

OF THE BOY NAME DUKE

The number Five personality loves the excitement of life and can easily adapt to all situations. As natural adventurers, these personalities thrive on the new and unexpected and prefer to be in constant motion. It makes them feel alive. They'll stir up some action if there's not enough around, and as inherent risk-takers they enjoy pushing the envelope. Naturally rebellious, the Five personality has no fear and never resists change.  Traveling and new experiences feed their souls. Fives are very social and attract friends with ease. People love to be around the Five fun-loving and exciting energy.  This is also a lucky number in numerology (like the Threes), so fortune seems to shine on them, helped along by their own optimism and good-nature. Fives have a quick wit, a cerebral mind, and are generally very persuasive. 

Popularity

OF THE BOY NAME DUKE

Believe it or not, Duke is a name that’s been used sporadically in America since the late 19th century. During the 20th century, this was pretty much a name that came and went. It saw most of its consistent usage during the 1950s when iconic actor John Wayne (aka “Duke”) was at the height of his stardom. Still, this is a name that has never been very common (only 154 boys were named Duke in 2012). Perhaps people consider it a bit too nicknamey. We like it though. It’s just supremely awesome and oozing with coolness. Duke Kahanamoku was a famous Hawaiian surfer and Olympic swimmer. Duke Ellington is considered by many to be the greatest jazz composer of all time. Talented slugger Duke Snider played for the Dodgers in the 1950s. And let us not forget THE Duke, John Wayne. He gives this name some wild, wild west appeal (thanks to all those rugged westerns he acted in).

Quick Facts

ON DUKE

GENDER:

Boy

ORIGIN:

English

NUMBER OF SYLLABLES:

1

RANKING POPULARITY:

718

PRONUNCIATION:

DOOK

SIMPLE MEANING:

Leader

Characteristics

OF DUKE

Freedom-loving

Adventurous

Adaptable

Intellectual

Easygoing

Progressive

Sensual

Cultural References to the Baby Name – Duke

Literary Characters

OF THE BABY NAME DUKE

We cannot find any significant literary characters by the name of Duke

Popular Songs

ON DUKE

The Duke Regains His Chops
a song by Frank Zappa

The Duke of Dubuque
a song by the Manhattan Transfer

The Duke
a song by Blind Melon

Sir Duke
a song by Stevie Wonder

Duke of Earl
a song by Gene Chandler

Duke Kahanamoku
a song by the Queers

Famous People

NAMED DUKE

Duke Kahanamoku (Hawaiian Olympic athlete in swimming and water polo
notable surfer)
Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington (jazz musician)
Marion Robert Morrison (aka John Wayne, aka The Duke)
Edwin Donald "Duke" Snider (baseball player)

Children of Famous People

NAMED DUKE

Giuliana and Bill Rancic;

Historic Figures

WITH THE NAME DUKE

Duke Kahanamoku was the iconic father of modern surfing, having been a five-time Olympic swimming gold and silver medalist who almost single-handedly popularized the nascent sport of surfing. Born and raised in Waikiki in Hawaii, Duke was the original beach boy. Well, not exactly. We’d like to see some of those California boys ride the waves as Duke did: on his hand-carved, koa wood, 16 foot, 114 pound board! Write a song about that, Beach Boys! After his extraordinary success in the Olympics and other sporting venues, Duke moved to Southern California and pursued an erratic career as a movie actor, mostly in supporting and extra roles. Returning to Hawaii, Duke served as sheriff of Honolulu for 29 years and more or less eked out a living lending his name to a nightclub (where Don Ho reigned supreme). He was also a friend and surfing companion (and perhaps more) to tobacco heiress, Doris Duke, who fronted the loan for a house for him and his wife. Duke’s memory is kept affectionately alive today in Hawaii; he is unanimously agreed to have been a sincerely good person. Ultimate kudo - he has even had a stamp issued in his honor.

Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington was one of the most beloved and revered figures of American jazz, whose long career encompassed composition, piano playing, radio, movie and television appearances and leading his own jazz band, with innumerable recordings testifying to his genius. Duke Ellington first gained widespread acclaim through appearances at New York City’s famed “Cotton Club”, with its white, wealthy clientele; in the 1930s his band toured Europe, garnering even more attention. The prolific Ellington produced over 1,000 compositions in his lifetime, including the classics: “Satin Doll”, “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore”, and “Sophisticated Lady” among others. Throughout his lifetime, Duke performed and recorded with such contemporary greats as Louis Armstrong, Coleman Hawkins, John Coltrane and Charlie Mingus. While the 1950s saw a decline in his favor, his reputation eventually was elevated to even greater prominence with his participation in the 1956 Newport Jazz Festival and with the issuance of Ella Fitzgerald’s “Duke Ellington’s Songbook”. Among the many awards and tributes Duke received were counted the Presidential Medal Freedom and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. His fame is as great as ever today, and he is universally recognized as a musical master. His own 1973 autobiography says it all: Music is My Mistress.