Make do vs. make due — which form is correct?

If only there was an easier way to say “to manage to live without things that you would like to have, or to live with things of a worse quality than you would like”… Wait a minute! There is a useful idiom to say that! What was that? Right: make due or make do. Still, which of these forms is incorrect? Fortunately, we know the answer.

Make do or make due? Which form is correct meaning definition correct form difference examples

Make do vs. make due — which form is correct?

Make do is nowadays considered the only correct way of spelling this idiom. How come, however, that you have also seen make due in some respectable old books? Their authors were not poor spellers, don’t worry. Until the 1940s, make due used to be an accepted form of the phrase. These days, this spelling is considered solely as a historical variant.

The adjective make-do, written with a hyphen, means “something improvised, makeshift”.

Make do or make due in literature

For the beginning, let’s see one historical text with make due:

Make due allowance for man’s nature, and enjoin the doing of what is right; and leave alone all those who choose to remain ignorant.

Holy Quran 7:199

Now let’s see the contemporary version of the idiom:

So you must stay Essun, and Essun will have to make do with the broken bits of herself that Jija has left behind.

N. K. Jemisin, The Fifth Season, 2015

‘I’m sorry I don’t have a shirt on before you ladies,” he said, hunching his shoulders slightly. “We buried our clothes that we had on when we escaped and we’re just making do until we can get better. We borrowed these from some folks we met,” he explained.

Flannery O’Connor, A Good Man Is Hard to Find, 1953

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Passionately in love with English — a romance initiated by reading Tolkien’s books that finally lead her too far, and now she is an English philology graduate. She loves learning, especially when it comes to languages. Interested in visual arts, history and DIY.