Don’t Do Due Diligence

By Maeve Maddox

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Not so very long ago, the only people I heard talk about “due diligence” were realtors.

Due diligence is a legal term that refers to the exercise of proper care and attention to avoid committing an offense through ignorance. For example, a realtor must trace previous ownership and make sure that a property is free and clear before selling it to a new owner.

In another context, due diligence is the comprehensive appraisal of a business undertaken to evaluate the commercial worth of a business. Due diligence is exercised to investigate such matters as assets and liabilities.

Since the 1980s, the expression “due diligence” has migrated from legal and business use to the general vocabulary, where it has become an inflated synonym for “comparison shopping.”

comparison shopping: comparing the same or similar products or services as offered by different retailers, manufacturers, etc. in order to find the best value at the lowest price.

A few users do seem to understand that “due diligence” is a specialized term in need of explanation:

Prudence would dictate that such an important decision [choosing a college] be preceded by a serious period of what on Wall Street is called “due diligence.”

By going through the above information-gathering activities [i.e., researching colleges], you are performing your “due diligence” in making a final choice. 

More commonly, writers use of the expression as if it were simply another way of saying “research a subject,” “compare prices,” “shop around,” or “think things through”:

Always use your due diligence when researching DHT blockers/inhibitor [in shampoos]

I never make a decision on ANYTHING without first doing my Yelp due diligence.  

Due diligence in the running shoe arena can make a huge difference between success and failure.

A bride that has done her due diligence in her quest to truly find the best wedding dress always asks the question, “where else can I go to compare this particular dress style?”

[Before buying a dog] practice due diligence by researching dog breeds, asking family, friends or neighbours who have dogs, and consulting experts.

Using the verb do with “due diligence” creates a mildly comic effect because of the juxtaposition of the “do” sounds:

Don’t Wing It — To Strategically Position Yourself, Do Your Due Diligence

Do You Do Due Diligence?

Who are we to get in the way of mamas who want to do their due diligence and sample lots more of our clothing?

“Do due diligence” echoes the humorous euphemism “doo-doo.” I even found a headline that deliberately plays on the doo-doo effect:

Doo Your Due Diligence when Using a Kennel

The story under the headline has nothing to do with doo-doo, but I don’t think that the spelling is a typo. The site is run by a business called ScooperDude; it offers a weekly clean-up service to dog owners who don’t want to pick up after their own dogs.

When it comes to “due diligence,” it’s better to exercise it or practice it than to do it.

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6 Responses to “Don’t Do Due Diligence”

  • Dale A Wood

    Consulting engineers, architects, and accountants also carry out due diligence in the performance of their jobs – in the older
    sense of the phrase.

  • Petra

    Of course, the jingle effect is only a problem in the USA, where English-speakers appear to be incapable of palatalising the consonant preceding a long U.

    Other English-speakers the world over have no such difficulty, so “do” and “due” sound sufficiently different to avoid the jingle.

  • Mike

    Although I agree with your decision to removed the word “do” from the equation, I suggest you double check the definition of “due diligence”

  • Iola

    I’m not from North America, and I’ve always pronounced “do” as “dew” (although sometimes it sounds more like “jew”). I’d never have thought of the doo-doo issue.

  • Dale A Wood

    Engineers and architects also use the term due diligence. Especially when working as consultants.

  • venqax

    “Of course, the jingle effect is only a problem in the USA, where English-speakers appear to be incapable of palatalising the consonant preceding a long U.”

    One hopes they especially have that problem when recklessly palatalizing where it is not appropriate. Which is most of the time. Or dyou y-you chyew your fyood? Shouldn’t the words do and due by homonymous regardless of one’s palate employment? Both are long Us, after all.

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