In a recent spurt of visits to bakeries that feature such special treats, I began to wonder: what exactly is the difference between the donut and the doughnut? 

Thinking I'd had some crazy revelation, I scoured the Internet only to realize the debate has already been raging, and that I'm not as ingenious as I thought. Now, with this trendy, sweet treat popping up in shops across the country, it seems that there is a fairly equal distribution in the spelling used. So, how did this happen? And which is right?

The original and official dictionary spelling is coined as doughnut and came about in the late 18th century, defining the pastry as a Dutch 'oily cake.' Not as appealing but pretty accurate when you think about it.

According to Grammarist, the shortened version has been around almost as long, but did not become popular until later in the 20th century. As you can see in this Google trend, the term donut really took off around 1950, yet the original still appears to reign supreme, at least in published texts.

The opposite is actually true for online usage. This could likely be explained by the general practice of modifying and simplifying words when on the computer or phone, but still doesn't leave us with a very clear result.

The apparent spike in pop-cultural uses of donut not so coincidentally began the same year as the national franchise, Dunkin Donuts was created. Ah-ha! Mystery solved. But alas, which is correct?

The next sensical step was to create a Twitter poll on my fairly inactive account, to see where my not so many followers stood on the issue. Not surprisingly, the results mirror the trend of online usage, with donut gaining a clear preference. Could this be a generational thing, slowly prodding the word doughnut out of existence?

wine, coffee, beer
Julia Slisz

Merriam-Webster accepts both and is certainly a reputable source. However, it does list donut as a variant of doughnut; a superiority I can't ignore. Seems to me like doughnut is the way to go.

The more you go forth and enjoy some d-o-u-g-hnuts!