Words related to dough
It forms all or part of: configure; dairy; dey (n.1) "female servant, housekeeper, maid;" disfigure; dough; effigy; faineant; faint; feign; feint; fictile; fiction; fictitious; figment; figure; figurine; lady; paradise; prefigure; thixotropy; transfigure.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit dehah "body," literally "that which is formed," dih- "to besmear;" Greek teikhos "wall;" Latin fingere "to form, fashion," figura "a shape, form, figure;" Old Irish digen "firm, solid," originally "kneaded into a compact mass;" Gothic deigan "to smear," Old English dag, Gothic daigs "dough."
"kind of food made from flour or the meal of some grain, kneaded into a dough, fermented, and baked," Old English bread "bit, crumb, morsel; bread," cognate with Old Norse brauð, Danish brød, Old Frisian brad, Middle Dutch brot, Dutch brood, German Brot. According to one theory [Watkins, etc.] from Proto-Germanic *brautham, from PIE root *bhreu- "to boil, bubble, effervesce, burn," in reference to the leavening.
But OED argues at some length for the basic sense being not "cooked food" but "piece of food," and the Old English word deriving from a Proto-Germanic *braudsmon- "fragments, bits" (cognate with Old High German brosma "crumb," Old English breotan "to break in pieces") and being related to the root of break (v.). It cites Slovenian kruh "bread," literally "a piece."
Either way, by c. 1200 it had replaced the usual Old English word for "bread," which was hlaf (see loaf (n.)).
Extended sense of "food, sustenance in general" (late 12c.) is perhaps via the Lord's Prayer. Slang meaning "money" dates from 1940s, but compare breadwinner, and bread as "one's livelihood" dates to 1719. Bread and circuses (1914) is from Latin, in reference to food and entertainment provided by the government to keep the populace content. "Duas tantum res anxius optat, Panem et circenses" [Juvenal, Sat. x.80].
"small, spongy cake made of dough and fried in lard," 1809, American English, from dough + nut (n.), probably on the notion of being a small round lump (the holes came later; they are first mentioned c. 1861). First recorded by Washington Irving, who described them as "balls of sweetened dough, fried in hog's fat, and called doughnuts, or olykoeks."
Earlier name for it was dough-boy (1680s). Bartlett (1848) meanwhile lists doughnuts and crullers among the types of olycokes, a word he derives from Dutch olikoek, literally "oil-cake," to indicate a cake fried in lard.
The ladies of Augusta, Maine, set in operation and carried out a novel idea, namely, the distribution of over fifty bushels of doughnuts to the Third volunteer regiment of that State. A procession of ladies, headed by music, passed between double lines of troops, who presented arms, and were afterwards drawn up in hollow square to receive from tender and gracious hands the welcome doughnation. [Frazar Kirkland, "Anecdotes of the Rebellion," 1866]
Meaning "a driving in tight circles" is U.S. slang, 1981. Compare also donut.