[Ads-l] Put Up Your Dukes - Duke of York?

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Tue Jan 19 08:03:09 UTC 2016


Interesting topic, Peter. Below are some citations for "left duke" and
"right duke" in the London periodical "Sporting Life" in 1859.

Date: June 25, 1859
Newspaper: Sporting Life
Newspaper Location: London, England
Article: Gallant Fight between Tommy Hackett and Jack Lead for Twenty
Rounds a Side
Quote Page 3, Column 1
Database: britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

[Begin excerpt]
Tom slung out his left duke on the cheek, but was prettily stopped in
an intended repetition of treatment. Frequent exchanges to a close,
when both were down, but Hackett under.
[End excerpt]


Date: August 3, 1859
Newspaper: Sporting Life
Newspaper Location: London, England
Article: Fight between Simon Finighty and Charley Lynch, For 100 Sovereigns
Quote Page 2, Column 3
Database: britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

[Begin excerpt]
Round 5. The American dashed out his right on the ribs, but Finghtly
planted his right duke on the left eye, and certainly damaged the
optic, although only to a slight extent.
[End excerpt]


Date: November 19, 1859
Newspaper: Sporting Life
Newspaper Location: London, England
Article: Fifty Pound Encounter between Jemmy Hill, of Chelsea, and
Nick Hannigan, of Liverpool
Start Page 3, Quote Page 4, Column 1
Database: britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

[Begin excerpt]
Short and sweet; Nick delivered his right duke on the ribs, but got
his ears boxed for his pains, and a little in-fighting was finished by
both being down.
[End excerpt]

Garson

On Mon, Jan 18, 2016 at 8:23 PM, Peter Reitan <pjreitan at hotmail.com> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Peter Reitan <pjreitan at HOTMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Put Up Your Dukes - Duke of York?
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>
> "Dukes" (1859)=2C as in "put up your dukes=2C" is generally said to have be=
> en derived from rhyming slang=3B "forks" meant fingers=2C "Duke of York" rh=
> ymes with forks=2C - therefore "Dukes" are hands.
>
> The reference generally cited in support of the derivation is John C. Hotte=
> n's 1874 book=2CThe Slang Dictionary=2C London=2C Chatto and=0A=
> Windus=2C 1874. HathiTrust.
>
> Hotten=2C himself=2C however=2C published an earlier book=2C A Dictionary o=
> f Modern Slang Cant and Vulgar Words=2C London=2C 1859=2C with a glossary o=
> f "rhyming slang=2C" including the phrase=2C "Duke of York=2C" meaning "tak=
> e a walk." HathiTrust.
>
> The earliest known print-reference for "dukes=2C" as hands=2C is from a lis=
> t of boxers' slang in a slang dictionary compiled by the New York City poli=
> ce commissioner in 1859=3B Vocabulum=3B or=2C The Rogue's Lexicon=2C New Yo=
> rk=2C G. W. Matsell=2C 1859. HathiTrust.
>
> In 1860=2C several reports of an international boxing match between an Amer=
> ican and Englishman=2C held in England=2C reports the use of "duke" to mean=
>  hand by the American's entourage=2C not the Englishman's entourage.  See=
> =2C for example=2C History of the Great International Contest Between Heena=
> n and Sayers at Farnborough=2C London=2C George Newbold=2C pages 67 and 71 =
> (citing Wilkes Spirit of the Times=2C April 18=2C 1860). HathiTrust. =20
>
> Taken together=2C it suggests that "dukes=2C" as in put up your dukes=2C ma=
> y be American=2C and not based on British rhyming slang.  The report of "Du=
> ke of York" meaning fingers in 1874 may have been true in 1874=2C influence=
> d=2C perhaps=2C by the intervening new usage of "duke"=3B fifteen years ear=
> lier=2C the same editor=2C believed "Duke of York" to mean "take a walk."
>
> It at least raises the question.
>
> I have compiled a number of additional references on my blog: Put Up Your "=
> Dukes" - a Punchy History and Etymology of "Dukes."         =20
>
>                                           =
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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