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Whilst plodding through Patrick Rothfuss' "The Name of the Wind", I came across:

Our dinner was nowhere near as grand as last night's. We made due with the last of my now-stale flatbread, dried meat, and the last potatoes baked on the edge of the fire.

I've seen "make do" mangled into "make due" before on the Interwebz. But this is the first time that I've run across it in a professional work. A quick search on Google Books reveals that Rothfuss and his editor are not the only ones who are happy to let this one pass.

Most language sites on the net including this one continue to gently correct the questioner by pointing out the correct form. Yet, there are some which appear to condone this practice with a dispassionate that-is-the-way-language-works stance on the matter.

So, what's the deal? Is "make due" now considered acceptable?

P.S. It might be relevant to note that Rothfuss is a professor of English at the University of Wisconsin.

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In my book, "make do" and "make due" are very different things, and can only attribute this to poor proof-reading and/or relying on spell-checker or grammar-checker –  Andrew Sep 12 '12 at 4:58
I have never seen or heard 'make due' used to mean 'make do'. –  Barrie England Sep 12 '12 at 6:02
Statistics aren't everything, but here's the Ngram which does seem conclusive. Interesting that made do with only seems to gain currency around 1920. –  Andrew Leach Sep 12 '12 at 6:44
Not unrelated: I once marked papers and more than once came across "X is do to Y" meaning "X is caused by Y." –  JAM Sep 12 '12 at 13:44
This is deep due-do. Remember that spelling is arbitrary, like phone numbers, and remember how eggcorns come about. –  John Lawler Sep 12 '12 at 16:02

1 Answer 1

As a Brit, I'd never confuse "make due" and "make do", but per comments above, they are homophones for some Americans (which as John Lawler comments, could put us in deep do-due here). I still don't really understand how anyone could think "due" makes sense, but here's someone on The Eggcorn Database who says he can (I think he's not exactly a "careful thinker", but there you go).

This NGram claims 44,400 instances of "make do", and 288 of "make due"...

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...but when I scroll through them it seems there are actually only 74 instances of the incorrect form. But the actual numbers are irrelevant - it's incorrect, meaningless, and unacceptable.

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Thank you. But why are both the NGram as well as your Books results comparing "must make due with" and not just "make due with"? As you will find, the results are far more significant in number. Also, as per J.R.'s comments, refining the NGram to include the noughties as well as turning off smoothing brings to notice the dip see towards the end of your graph. –  coleopterist Sep 13 '12 at 17:30
@coleopterist: I'm not trying to twist the figures, honestly! It's just that there are still enough results to be "significant" with "must/with" before/after the target phrase, and I thought the longer phrase would make absolutely sure I wasn't distorting things with any "false matches". But at the end of the day, it makes no difference to my answer if the errorneous form occurs ten times more often than my graph suggests. It's still incorrect, meaningless, and unacceptable. –  FumbleFingers Sep 13 '12 at 18:01
:) It makes a difference when you attach importance to the scalar magnitude of the results ("actually only 74") rather than rely solely on relative observations. The comparison is currently flawed as is the use of must which needlessly pollutes the results in this case. It makes sense to use additional keywords to refine the results only when there are a number of false positives. Based on the first couple of pages, I do not see any. IMHO, it is also important to note the dates of the books in the results. A majority of them were written in the last few years. Hence my question. –  coleopterist Sep 13 '12 at 18:21
FumbleFingers and John Lawler (in the comments) have it right: it's an American eggcorn, since due and do are homophones for a very large number of Americans. It's just as wrong as calling an acorn an eggcorn. –  Peter Shor Sep 13 '12 at 20:10
@Peter Shor: I guess you habitually interact with a wide variety of different accents (I think you flagged up "regional homophony" more than once before). But it's still a bit worrying to learn from OP that "Rothfuss is a professor of English at the University of Wisconsin. I'm not even sure what "professor" means in that context, but one would like to hope that people with that level of accreditation would be reasonably literate. I'm going to be charitable and assume a transcription error somewhere along the line. –  FumbleFingers Sep 13 '12 at 22:10

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