from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A small ring-shaped cake made of rich, light dough that is fried in deep fat.
  • noun Something whose form is reminiscent of a ring-shaped cake.
  • noun A fast, tight 360° turn made in a motor vehicle or motorized boat.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A small spongy cake made of dough (usually sweetened and spiced) and fried in lard.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun A small cake (usually sweetened) fried in a kettle of boiling lard.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A deep-fried piece of dough or batter, commonly of a toroidal (a ring doughnut) often mixed with various sweeteners and flavourings; or flattened sphere (a filled doughnut) shape filled with jam, custard or cream.
  • noun Anything in the shape of a torus.
  • noun North America A peel-out or skid mark in the shape of a circle; a 360-degree skid.
  • noun A spare car tyre, usually stored in the boot, that is smaller than a full sized tyre and is only intended for temporary use.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a toroidal shape
  • noun a small ring-shaped friedcake


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

dough +‎ nut, 1809. Originally small, nut-sized balls of fried dough, with the toroidal shape becoming common in the twentieth century. First attested in Knickerbocker’s History of New York, by Washington Irving, 1809.


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word doughnut.



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • Donut is not the American spelling

    August 8, 2007

  • I have to disagree. I would say Dunkin Donuts is the epitome of Americana.

    August 9, 2007

  • Regardless of the spelling, anything fried is pretty American.

    August 9, 2007

  • So is changing word spelling to almost phonetic simplicity--like, say, Krispy Kreme. ;->

    August 9, 2007

  • Actually, I think English could do with some additional simplification. It would make my job a lot easier! Case in point: /ough/.

    August 10, 2007

  • Yep. English is a mishmash, all right.

    August 10, 2007

  • Jennarenn: I'm curious, is Formula Phonics still a viable, used system at the elementary school level? It was in use where I did my student teaching and then full-on partial year of teaching in a 4-5 combination classroom.

    August 10, 2007

  • Not in my county, but Fairfax is known for doing its own thing.

    August 11, 2007

  • ...these men actually lived for several months on the mouldy scraps of whales which had been left ashore after trying out the blubber. Among the Dutch whalemen these scraps are called "fritters"; which, indeed, they greatly resemble, being brown and crisp, and smelling something like old Amsterdam housewives' dough-nuts or oly-cooks, when fresh.

    - Melville, Moby-Dick, ch. 65

    July 26, 2008

  • Beef, cheese, bacon, and doughnut sandwiches. Could it get any worse than this?

    October 4, 2008

  • They're lutherburgers.

    October 4, 2008

  • I just heard a BBC podcast in which someone talked about "doughnutting the Prime Minister." I looked it up:

    May 6, 2010

  • "Donuts" gets 43 million Google hits to 12.6 million for "doughnuts." But subtract 12.8 million donuts for the brand name "Dunkin' Donuts" and probably millions more for "Buckeye Donuts," "Stan's Donuts," etc.

    "Doughnut" is still ahead on Google's Ngram viewer:

    September 12, 2011

  • A nationally-run radio commercial that has an empty spot in the middle where local affiliates can add their own specific commercials.

    March 5, 2018