รดรด

"Donut" Versus "Doughnut"

In honor of National Doughnut Day, we investigate where the "donut" spelling originated.

By
Mignon Fogarty
Flying donuts (or are those doughnuts)?

In a tweet, Andrew Lowe asked, "Did @DunkinDonuts single-handedly foster the accepted alternative spelling of 'doughnut'?"

Andrew's theory has merit.

What’s the Trouble?

"Donut" is a simplified variant of "doughnut."

A doughnut is literally a nut (ball) of dough. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the name was first reported by American author Washington Irving (using the pen name Diedrich Knickerbocker) in 1809. The sweet treat he was describing resembled what today we’d call doughnut holes rather than the puffy rings we now call doughnuts.

The "donut" spelling appeared about 100 years later but did not immediately thrive. However, its use has grown steadily and significantly since Dunkin’ Donuts was founded in 1950.

What Should You Do?

Stick with "doughnut."

Here's an example:

A paradox, the doughnut hole. Empty space, once, but now they've learned to market even that. A minus quantity; nothing, rendered edible. I wondered if they might be use—metaphorically, of course—to demonstrate the existence of God. Does naming a sphere of nothingness transmute it into being?

— Margaret Atwood in The Blind Assassin
 

 Get more tips like this in Grammar Girl's 101 Troublesome Words You'll Master in No Time:

Print: AmazonBarnes & NoblePowell’s

E-book: Amazon KindleBarnes & Noble NookApple iBook

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of the Quick and Dirty Tips network and creator of Grammar Girl, which has been named one of Writer's Digest's 101 best websites for writers multiple times. The Grammar Girl podcast has also won Best Education Podcast multiple times in the Podcast Awards, and Mignon is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame. Mignon is the author of the New York Times best-seller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing" and six other books on writing. She has appeared as a guest on the "Oprah Winfrey Show" and the "Today Show" and has been featured in the New York Times, Business Week, the Washington Post, USA Today, CNN.com, and more. She was previously the chair of media entrepreneurship in the Reynolds School of Journalism in Reno, NV. She hates the phrase "grammar nazi" and loves the word "kerfuffle." She has a B.A. in English from the University of Washington in Seattle and an M.S. in biology from Stanford University. Mignon believes that learning is fun, and the vast rules of grammar are wonderful fodder for lifelong study. 

The Quick and Dirty Tips Privacy Notice has been updated to explain how we use cookies, which you accept by continuing to use this website. To withdraw your consent, see Your Choices.