12 Different Ways to Say 'Doughnut' Across the U.S.

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On National Doughnut Day, the holiest of high fat holidays (hole-y, get it?), we celebrate the delicious pastry, from the plain to the just plain crazy. Not only can you get your grubby hands on free doughnuts today, you’re getting a bunch of regional doughnut lingo right here. With the editors of the Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE), we explore the different ways people say doughnut across the United States and bring you a dozen to sink your teeth into.

1. CHOKER HOLE

Choker hole is originally a logging term from the Pacific Northwest. It refers to a small hole dug under a log so that a choker—a rope or wire formed in the shape of a noose—can go under the log for hauling. Due to its resemblance, loggers nicknamed the doughnut "choker hole."

2. COOKIE

If you really want to confuse your friends, call a doughnut a cookie. Popular in the Southern and South Midland states, this term probably comes from the Dutch koekje, meaning a “small sweetened cake.”

3. FETTIGLICH

In German communities in Missouri, you might hear doughnuts referred to as fettiglich. The word probably comes from the German fettig, meaning fatty or greasy. According to a quote in DARE, a fall tradition in Missouri involved masked children going door to door, saying, “Fettiglich, fettiglich,” to which people would respond by giving them doughnuts, a practice which should definitely be revived for Doughnut Day.

4. OLYKOEK

Olykoek is an early term for doughnut that hails from the Hudson Valley in New York. One of the earliest recorded usages is from Washington Irving in his 1809 book A History of New York: “The table ... was always sure to boast an enormous dish of balls of sweetened dough, fried in hog’s fat, and called dough nuts, or oly koeks.” Olykoek is a variation on the Dutch oliekoek, which translates as “oil cake.”

5. SUBMARINE

While a submarine is familiar as a sandwich in some parts of the U.S., it has also been a name for a doughnut in states like Kansas, Minnesota, West Virginia, and New York. Alternatively called a sinker, the name submarine comes from the idea of a doughnut being submerged in oil or fat, according to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED).

6. FRIED NUT

If you’re ever in New Hampshire and get offered a fried nut, take it! It's an old-fashioned term for a doughnut. The "nut" of fried nut (and of doughnut, for that matter) comes from the idea that earlier doughnuts—which didn’t have holes—looked like nuts.

7. CYMBAL

An old-timey New England term, cymbal refers to a doughnut without a hole, according to a quote in DARE. A doughnut with a hole might have come from a sea captain, at least according to an early 1930s quote from the Linguistic Atlas of New England. Boston native Oliver Wendell Holmes called the cymbal “a kind of genteel doughnut.”

8. COLD SHUT

Ever bite into a tough, day-old doughnut? That might be called a cold shut in the Pacific Northwest. Cold shut was originally a welding term referring to a link that was closed “while cold” and without welding.

9. KOLACKY

A kolacky is a doughnut with a sweet filling, as well as a pastry made of pie dough and topped with something sweet. The term is chiefly used in Wisconsin and the Upper Midwest states, and is a variation on the Czech kolač, which comes from kolo, meaning wheel or circle. DARE’s earliest recorded use of a form of kolacky is from Willa Cather’s novel My Ántonia, which is about a family of “Bohemian” immigrants: “Show him the spiced plums, mother. Americans don’t have those ... Mother uses them to make kolaches.”

10. BERLINER

In Wisconsin and craving a jelly doughnut? Ask for a Berliner. If wreath-shaped pastries are more your thing, you can find the Berliner kranser in Scandinavian settlement areas like Minnesota. Despite its German-sounding name, Berliner kranser is actually Norwegian and translates as "Berlin wreath."

11. TANGLE BREECHES

Tangle breeches is a nickname for the cruller in states like Pennsylvania, Maryland, Nebraska, Kansas, and Alabama. What’s a cruller? Basically a doughnut in a twisty shape. The term cruller, chiefly used in the North Central and Central Atlantic states, comes from the Dutch krulle, a curled cake.

12. MATRIMONY

The matrimony sounds like a delicious union: two crullers joined by another piece of dough. Such a doughnut might be found in Massachusetts and Rhode island.

This story originally ran in 2016.

11 Words That Started Out As Spelling Mistakes

A woman sneezing, which in Middle English would have been called a fneze instead.
A woman sneezing, which in Middle English would have been called a fneze instead.
iStock.com/Dirima

The word irregardless might not be to everyone’s taste, but there’s no denying that if you were to use it in a sentence, you’d be perfectly understood—and that’s more than enough evidence for it to have been accepted into many dictionaries (albeit flagged as non-standard or informal), including Oxford Dictionaries, Merriam-Webster, and even the hallowed Oxford English Dictionary, which has so far been able to trace it back as far as 1912. So despite it having its origins in an error, and irregardless of what you might think of it, there’s no denying irregardless is indeed a word—and it’s by no means alone.

1. Expediate

Meaning “to hasten” or “to complete something promptly,” the verb expediate is thought to have been invented by accident in the early 1600s when the adjective form of expedite, meaning “ready for action” or “alert,” was misspelled in an essay by the English politician Sir Edwin Sandys (it was later corrected).

2. Culprit

There are several different accounts of the origin of culprit, but all of them seem to agree that the word was born out of a mistake. Back when French was still the language of the law in England in the Middle Ages (a hangover from the days of the Norman Conquest), the phrase Culpable, prest d’averrer nostre bille—literally “guilty, ready to prove our case”—was apparently the stock reply given by the Clerk of the Crown whenever a defendant gave a plea of not guilty. In the court records, this fairly long-winded phrase was often abbreviated just to cul. prit., and, as the Oxford English Dictionary explains, “by a fortuitous or ignorant running together of the two,” the word culprit was born.

3. Despatch

Despatch is a chiefly British English variant of dispatch, often used only in formal contexts like the name of the political despatch box in the House of Commons. The e spelling apparently began as a phonetic variation of the original I spelling, but after Samuel Johnson included it in his Dictionary of the English Language in 1755, its use was legitimized and thrived in the 19th century. Because Johnson himself preferred the I spelling in his own writings, however, it's supposed that he included the e spelling by mistake and inadvertently popularized the error.

4. Nickname

Nicknames were originally called eke names, with the verb eke used here in the sense of “to make longer” or “to provide an addition.” Sometime in the 13th century, however, “an eke-name” was mistakenly interpreted as “a neke-name,” and the N permanently jumped across from the indefinite article an to the verb eke. The same error—known linguistically as “rebracketing” or “junctural metanalysis”—is responsible for nadders, numpires, and naprons all losing their initial Ns in the Middle English period.

5. Ammunition

Ammunition derives from a faulty division of the French la munition, which was incorrectly misheard as l'amonition by French soldiers in the Middle Ages, and it was this mistaken form that was borrowed into English in the 1600s.

6. Scandinavia

Scandinavia was originally called Scadinavia, without the first N, and is thought to take its name from an island, perhaps now part of the Swedish mainland, called Scadia. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the extra N was added in error by the Roman scholar Pliny the Elder, and has remained in place ever since.

7. Syllabus

If all had gone to plan in the history of the word syllabus, those two Ls should really be Ts: Syllabus was coined as a Latin misreading of an Ancient Greek word, sittybos, meaning “a table of contents.”

8. Sneeze

Oddly, sneeze was spelled with an F and not an S, fneze, in Middle English, which gives weight to the theory that it was probably originally coined onomatopoeically. At least one explanation of why the letter changed suggests that this F inadvertently became an S sometime in the 15th century due to continual misreadings of the long lowercase f as the old-fashioned long S character, ſ.

9. Ptarmigan

The ptarmigan is a bird of the grouse family, found in mountainous and high-latitude environments. Its bizarre name with its initial silent P is something of a mystery, as the original Scots word from which it derives, tarmachan, shows no evidence of it and there’s little reason why one should ever have to have been added to it—except, of course, if it were a mistake. The P spelling first emerged in the late 1600s, and is thought to have been a mistaken or misguided attempt to ally the name to the Greek word for a wing, pteron, and eventually this unusual P spelling replaced the original one.

10. Sherry

Sherry takes its name from the southern Spanish port of Xeres (now Jerez de la Frontera in Cádiz) and was originally known as vino de Xeres, or “wine of Xeres.” This name then morphed into sherris when sherry first began to be talked about in English in the early 17th century, but because of that final S, it didn’t take long for that to be misinterpreted as a plural. Ultimately, a mistaken singular form, sherry, emerged entirely by mistake in the early 1600s.

11. Pea

Another word that developed from a plural-that-actually-wasn’t is pea. One pea was known as a pease in Middle English, but because of that final “s” sound, pease was quickly misinterpreted as a plural, giving rise to a misguided singular form, pea, in the 17th century. The actual plural of pease in Middle English, incidentally, was pesen.

This list first ran in 2016.

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