Thursday, August 09, 2007

Put Up Your Dukes

Seems likely to be the latest thing Bush will be mocked for saying:

Look, generally the way these things work is you try to be cordial to the person you're with, and so you don't want the picture to be kind of, you know, ducking it out. Okay, put up your dukes. That's an old boxing expression.

Referring to grip-and-grin photo ops between feuding world leaders.

It is an old boxing expression (traced to at least 1859), but it's an odd one. About the only thing that seems sure about it is it is not directly connected to the royalty title duke. One version of its origins (reprinted in "Dictionary of American Slang") traces it to a gypsy word, Romany dook "the hand as read in palmistry, one's fate." Another (printed by slang-meister Eric Partridge) sees it as a contraction of Duke of Yorks, rhyming slang for forks, a Cockney term for "fingers," thus "hands."