Why we say “OK”

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  • Published on:  9/12/2018
  • How a cheesy joke from the 1830s became the most widely spoken word in the world.

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    OK is thought to be the most widely recognized word on the planet. We use it to communicate with each other, as well as our technology. But it actually started out as a language fad in the 1830’s of abbreviating words incorrectly.

    Young intellectuals in Boston came up with several of these abbreviations, including “KC” for “knuff ced,” “OW” for “oll wright,” and KY for “know yuse.” But thanks to its appearance in Martin Van Buren’s 1840 presidential re-election campaign as the incumbents new nickname, Old Kinderhook, OK outlived its abbreviated comrades.

    Later, widespread use by early telegraph operators caused OK to go mainstream, and its original purpose as a neutral affirmative is still how we use it today.

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Comment

  • Vox
    Vox  4 months ago+6080

    Another popular false origin of OK comes from the American Civil War (1861-1865) which says that soldiers returning from battle would report "0K" (zero killed). And there's a few from around the world, too. Like the Greek "όλα καλά (óla kalá) which means "all good," the Scottish "och aye," which means "oh yes," and even a French-named seaport in Haiti, Aux Cayes. While these are all pretty interesting and might indicate why "OK" was so easily adapted into language worldwide, none of them can actually be traced in their influence the way "oll korrect" can. Neat. - Coleman

  • fiscaljoy
    fiscaljoy 33 minutes ago

    Ok

  • alexander5
    alexander5 an hour ago

    knock out

  • alexander5
    alexander5 an hour ago

    Okay

  • Char10tti3
    Char10tti3 5 hours ago

    Okay

  • Shiny Paint
    Shiny Paint 10 hours ago

    Oke: I'M NOT OK

  • Ponemah Elementary
    Ponemah Elementary 17 hours ago

    Okie Diddly Okie

  • Leo g
    Leo g yesterday

    Always thought it meant oll klear - All clear.

  • James Patton
    James Patton yesterday

    Is it Okay? Or OK?

  • vxCece15xv
    vxCece15xv yesterday

    When correct was spelled with a K... why did we change it though?

  • Lil'Monki
    Lil'Monki yesterday

    Ola kala (greek) = all good :)

  • Unknown Music
    Unknown Music yesterday

    OK

  • Trung Nguyen
    Trung Nguyen 2 days ago+1

    I feel attacked

  • StrivingFor Mindfulness

    1830s hipsters started it. OK. 😂 👌🏻

  • Nethu
    Nethu 2 days ago

    I can't swim
    I can't dance and i don't know karate
    Face it we got *that feeling* suddenly after seeing them...

  • Nethu
    Nethu 2 days ago

    Oh god
    Did i just see mcr
    After all this time...

  • robby
    robby  2 days ago

    but where did the ok hand sing come from

  • Baek's smile, My life

    Ok 👍

  • Diego Huijbregts
    Diego Huijbregts 2 days ago

    My guess was "Oll Klear"

  • Yuuki Kuroutarou
    Yuuki Kuroutarou 2 days ago

    If you think about it, the word OK can trace itself to the Scandinavian languages, in the word ok (pronounced oo-kuh) which means the same thing.