General Question

jenabee's avatar

Where did the origin of the word doughnut come from?

Asked by jenabee (7points) November 5th, 2009

If there are no nuts in most doughnuts, then why do they call them doughnuts?

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3 Answers

PupnTaco's avatar

The word has its origins in the murky past of Middle English where they were referred to as “toe-naughts.” (Naught meaning zero, of course.)

There were other numeral-shaped treats at the time – perhaps the best-known is the delicious Fig Eight.

Eventually, as the Great Plague passed and the need to make the best of discarded digits waned, these wonderful fried rings came to be known as “doughnuts,” mostly for their use of dough.

It is a Welsh tradition that if you can pass a Filbert through the center of a doughnut, you’ll have three minutes of good luck.

Darwin's avatar

The name came because originally you would take a “nut” sized piece of dough and fry it. Later on, folks figured out that they would cook better if you cut the center out, and also that it was fun to put a filling in some of them.

From Wikipedia:


The earliest known recorded usage of the term dates an 1808 short story[5] describing a spread of “fire-cakes and dough-nuts.” Washington Irving’s reference to “doughnuts” in 1809 in his History of New York is more commonly cited as the first written recording of the term. Irving described “balls of sweetened dough, fried in hog’s fat, and called doughnuts, or olykoeks.”[6] These “nuts” of fried dough might now be called doughnut holes. Doughnut is the more traditional spelling, and still dominates outside the US. At present, doughnut and the shortened form donut are both pervasive in American English. The first known printed use of donut was in Peck’s Bad Boy and his Pa by George W. Peck, published in 1900, in which a character is quoted as saying, “Pa said he guessed he hadn’t got much appetite, and he would just drink a cup of coffee and eat a donut.”[7] The donut spelling also showed up in a Los Angeles Times article dated August 10, 1929 in which Bailey Millard jokingly complains about the decline of spelling, and that he “can’t swallow the ‘wel-dun donut’ nor the ever so ‘gud bred’. The interchangeability of the two spellings can be found in a series of “National Donut Week” articles in The New York Times that covered the 1939 World’s Fair. In four articles beginning October 9, two mention the donut spelling. Dunkin’ Donuts, which was founded in 1948 under the name Open Kettle (Quincy, Massachusetts), is the oldest surviving company to use the donut variation, but the now defunct Mayflower Donut Corporation appears to be the first company to use that spelling, having done so prior to World War II.

scrappy123's avatar

this doesnt tell me anything about where the doughnut came from

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