‘Duel’ vs ‘Dual’: What’s the Difference?

By Amy Gilmore, updated on June 6, 2023

Do you need to know the difference between 'duel' vs. 'dual?' If so, you are in the perfect place.

Here is a quick answer: 

  • 'Duel' is a fight used to settle disputes. 
  • 'Dual' means representing two sides, groups, or ideas. 

These words are homophones because they sound the same but have different spellings and meanings. In this guide, you will learn about homophones and their definitions, pronunciations, and examples.

To learn more about these terms, read the usage tips, definitions, and example sentences in this guide.

The 'Duel' vs. 'Dual' Duel

While these terms are homophones, they do have a few significant differences. 'Duel' is a noun and verb, while 'dual' is an adjective or noun.

Another difference is their meaning.

  • The first means a fight or game to settle a dispute or determine a position of power.
  • The word 'duel' is often thought of in connection to the Renaissance period, and you can see reenactments at Renaissance festivals around the world.

'Dual' is a word often associated with advertising. You may have heard commercials talking about dual-action products.

  • 'Dual' means that something includes or has capabilities for two main functions.
  • For example, a dual-action toothbrush might include toothbrushing and Waterpik capabilities.

 When to Use 'Duel' and 'Dual'

Part of understanding a word is understanding when you would use it. So, here are some useful tips.

  • Use 'duel' when talking about two opponents engaging in a competition to determine a winner.

For example, you could say:

The teams are dueling it out in the World Series to see who will be the champion. 

  • Use 'duel' when talking about people competing for a position.

For example, someone might say:

If you want that coveted position, you have to duel it out with the favorite by submitting a writing sample that wins over the hiring team. 

  • Use 'dual' when referring to something that has two main functionalities.

As an example, I might tell someone:

Do you have a dual-flush toilet? It allows you to choose how much water you use with each flush. 

Definition of 'Duel': What Does 'Duel' Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 'duel' means:

  • A combat between two opponents

It can also mean:

  • A conflict between two opposing teams, groups, people, beliefs, or idea
  • To fight in a dual
  • To encounter a dueling opponent

Synonyms of 'Duel'

  • Ballgame
  • Warfare
  • Battle
  • Conflict
  • Dispute
  • Contest
  • Grapple
  • Face-off
  • War
  • Rivalry
  • Contention
  • Competition
  • Grapple
  • Conflict
  • Sweepstake
  • Match
  • Tug-o-war
  • Confrontation
  • Combat
  • Dogfight
  • Struggle

Terms with 'Duel'

  • Dueling
  • Dueling
  • Dueller
  • Dueler
  • Dueled
  • Dueled
  • Duelist
  • Duellist
  • Outduel
  • Outduell
  • Outdueled
  • Outduelled

Definition of 'Dual': What Does 'Dual' Mean?

The same dictionary defines 'dual' as:

  • Referencing two features, ideas, or parts

It can also mean:

  • Having double natures, personalities, or characters
  • Two languages

Synonyms of 'Dual'

  • Duplex
  • Double
  • Twofold
  • Double-barrel
  • Mated
  • Binary
  • Bipartite
  • Twin
  • Paired
  • Matched
  • Coupled
  • Doubleheader

Sayings and Phrases with 'Dual'

  • Dual-action
  • Dual Major
  • Dual exhaust
  • Dual incomes
  • Dual citizenship
  • Dual roles
  • Dual bathrooms

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce 'Duel' vs. 'Dual'

Knowing how to pronounce terms is just as important as understanding how to use them.

So, here is a pronunciation guide:

  • You pronounce 'duel' with this phonetic spelling:


  • Ponounce 'dual' with this phonetic spelling:


As you can see, despite having different spellings and meanings.

Sample Sentences Using 'Duel' vs. 'Dual'

Here are a few examples using 'duel' vs. 'dual.' Read them to ensure that you understand how to use them in different contexts.


  • The knights will duel tonight for the entertainment of the king and his court. The winner will be invited to a ball at the castle.
  • When will you know the winner of the duel? I heard they would receive a substantial award. That makes the stakes higher.
  • You do not have to duel with other people in life. You should only compete with yourself. That way, you are always working on becoming the best version of yourself.
  • I want to see the knights duel at the renaissance festival this year. Afterward, we can watch another performance or eat dinner at one of the authentic eateries.
  • We have been arguing about who is better for years. Let's have a duel to determine the best cook. I am going to make a new dish I have been practicing. So, I hope you bring your A-game.
  • Did you see the duel in that movie? It was super realistic.
  • You might win the duel, but you know that I am a worthy opponent.


  • You should try this new dual-action toothpaste I have been using. It contains toothpaste and mouthwash. It leaves your breath fresher than traditional kinds of toothpaste.
  • She holds dual roles. She is the director of marketing at a firm in New York, and she is a sales coach at the corporate office in Singapore.
  • I am trying to get dual citizenship. However, it is challenging to maintain citizenship in two countries. You have to prove that you have ties and are a value to both nations.
  • Are you planning on installing dual exhaust on your new car, or are you satisfied with the stock exhaust?
  • Families with dual incomes often have more financial security because they earn more money, and if one person loses their job, the family has an income to fall back on.
  • The dual functionality it includes is the first of its kind.

The Last Word on the 'Duel' vs. 'Dual' Duel

We covered a ton of information, so here is a quick recap:

  • 'Duel' is a fight or contest to determine who is the better opponent.
  • 'Dual' means that something has two functions or that it represents more than one nation, idea, role, etc.

These two are also homophones. When two words sound similar, it can be challenging to remember the meanings. So, if you ever get stuck choosing which of these to use, you can always come back for a quick review.

You can also verify the meanings of commonly misused words in the confusing words section here. Each guide has definitions, pronunciations, and examples. So, they are an excellent way to increase your vocabulary while learning grammar rules and spelling.

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Written By:
Amy Gilmore
Amy Gilmore is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. She has been a professional writer and editor for the past eight years. She developed a love of language arts and literature in school and decided to become a professional freelance writer after a demanding career in real estate. Amy is constantly learning to become a better writer and loves sharing tips with other writers who want to do the same.

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