Why is a donut called a donut?

Answered by James Kissner

The origins of why a donut is called a donut can be traced back to early American history. The early settlers in America had a fondness for fried treats, and one particular treat caught their attention – a round, fried pastry that was deliciously sweet. These treats were fried in oil, which led to their initial name of “oily cakes” or olykoeks.

The term “oily cakes” was a literal translation of the Dutch word “olykoeks,” as the Dutch settlers were known to make these fried pastries. Olykoeks were made by mixing dough with ingredients like eggs, sugar, and spices, and then frying them in oil until they turned golden brown. The result was a crispy and flavorful treat that was enjoyed by many.

However, the name “oily cakes” didn’t stick for long. Legend has it that a woman came up with the idea of adding nuts to the dough before frying it. This addition of nuts led to a new name for the treat – “doughnuts.” The name was a combination of “dough” and “nuts,” signifying the presence of nuts in the dough.

The term “doughnut” soon became popular and eventually evolved into its modern-day form – “donut.” The shortened version of the name gained popularity mainly due to its simplicity and ease of pronunciation. Over time, the spelling of the word changed, and “donut” became the widely accepted spelling.

It’s worth noting that the term “donut” became more popular in the United States, while other English-speaking countries, such as the United Kingdom, still commonly use the original term “doughnut.”

The evolution of the name “donut” showcases how language can change and adapt over time. From the literal translation of “oily cakes” to the addition of nuts in the dough and the eventual simplification of the name, the term has transformed to become the familiar word we know today.

A donut is called a donut because of its historical roots as “oily cakes” and the addition of nuts in the dough, which led to the name “doughnuts.” Over time, the term evolved into the shortened and more widely used form of “donut.”