Doughnut or DoNut Care? A Grammar Teacher’s Spelling Struggle

I was recently gearing up for National Doughnut Day by creating a bingo game based on the history of this breakfast delight when spellcheck used it’s red laser underscore to point out that only one spelling of doughnut is the correct one. Apparently, d-o-u-g-h-n-u-t is the correct way to spell yet another grammatically confused English word.  I did a little research and found that although both spellings have been around since the 1800’s, it was all a ploy of the Dunkin Donuts founding marketing team in the 1950’s.

This does nothing to ease my grammatical teaching conscience, however.  On one hand, d-o-u-g-h-n-u-t is correct, does not get flagged down on spell check and should receive credit for being the first. On the other hand, d-o-n-u-t is shorter, simpler i.e. all the letters actually make a sound, and just plain looks better.

Even more confusing is when I was looking up the history of National Doughnut Day, I noticed that it was spelled both ways in the article. states that d-o-u-g-h-n-u-t is favored by a wide margin in the international community and in two-thirds of American writing.  However, comments do include a coin toss to decide, bashing of grammar purists and blaming the “Norman scribes who came to England in the invasion of 1066”.  Further adding to my conundrum is that’s article, “The Best Donut Shops in America“, has 28 shops listed with the word doughnut/donut and 18 of them are with the incorrect spelling not including the title.

So WHICH do I use? The teacher in me really nags to use the correct spelling.  BUT, my laid-back, keep-it-simple self really, really likes the simpler spelling.  Then again, just because Dunkin Donuts does it, doesn’t make it right.

Two doughnuts

Well, kids…what did we learn?

  1. When it comes to writing, consider your audience, make a decision and stick to it.  These are kids or coworkers, Doughnut Bingo is a fun game. I’m going with d-o-n-u-t. And I will spell it this way all day.  I may not be right but at least I am consistent.
  2. The English language is a hodgepodge of craziness that will confuse and mystify you until the day you die.  Once you know this, you can live in peace with all of your spelling errors and grammatical mistakes. Chances are, the confusing word you are trying to spell has another spelling anyway.  Check out this list of 20 more words with more than one spelling.  And this list does not even include the homophones or homonyms!

At the end of the day, consider the bottom line- It is National Donut Day, donuts are delicious. My students and I are going to celebrate by playing Donut Day Bingo and eating one.  No sleep lost at night here.