put up (one's) dukes

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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!
See also: duke, put, up
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

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!
See also: duke, put, up
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

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.
See also: put, up
Endangered Phrases by Steven D. Price Copyright © 2011 by Steven D. Price
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