put up (one's) dukes(redirected from put up their dukes)
put up (one's) dukes
old-fashioned To raise one's fists in preparation for a fight. Often said as a command. I put up my dukes, expecting him to strike me at any moment. I ain't gonna let nobody insult my good character—come on and put up your dukes!
put up one's dukes
Fig. to be prepared to fight. He's telling you to put up your dukes. Put up your dukes and be a man!
Put up your dukes!
A challenge to fight. The “dukes” in question were fists, which the challenged party was asked to clench in preparation to trying to punch his opponent. But why “dukes?” The word comes from Cockney rhyming slang “Duke of York,” meaning “fork,” held at mealtimes by a clenched fist. Similarly, “duke it out” remains a general term for fighting.