Why we say “OK”

  • 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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  • Vox (Sep 12, 2018)

    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 adapt...

  • oukkat (May 6, 2019)


  • Luis Eduardo Grijalva (Apr 22, 2019)


  • Teixeira (Sep 15, 2018)

    so a meme in 1830 became the most used word in the world

  • *YEET*

  • Name not found (Dec 16, 2018)

    I hope “Yeet” lives up to this and becomes one of the greats.

  • kath rin (7 hours ago)

    OK is popular all over the world and yeet never will be that popular

  • Yeetus yeetus commit self deleetus

  • Einstein's smexy Hands (Dec 2, 2018)

    So If OK were some word came from memelords back 1830s then...Could people possibly in the future will actually say F during funerals or any sad occasions???

  • Christopher Craven (1 day ago)

    I think you misunderstand, they brought something of value.That's not the same.

  • justførkicks (2 days ago)

    +Corey Skuse I believe I know what it means. English is my first language, after all.Bitterness aside, I meant 'shook' in the modern sense. It comes from gay culture, I believe, as another way of saying you were shaken up -- though it can have more positive connotations. Here's a link to the Urban Dictionary entries of the word, just so you can get a sense of its usage --> https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=shook

  • Sri (Apr 19, 2019)

    “The Krave for K is a visual strategy”The kadarshians did research before naming their daughters huh

  • Simön Faur (May 15, 2019)

    I wouldn't give them that much credit...

  • foxymetroid (Apr 23, 2019)

    No. I'm pretty sure they thought that's how the name was actually spelled.

  • caramel coffee (Mar 16, 2019)

    so whyyyy did my high school English take off marks when i wrote "O.K" instead of "okay"

  • +Simön Faur her life is meaningful she teaches the futu generation knowledge

  • Parker Jeans (13 hours ago)

    If you expect your highschool teachers to teach you the correct thing then you have way to high of expectations

  • torkamarinum (Sep 13, 2018)

    So "OK" is an old meme?.. OK

  • Simön Faur (May 15, 2019)

    "Buffalo on cave wall" was first memeThen came the bUfFaLo

  • foxymetroid (Apr 23, 2019)

    +Kyan Ysh Oldest meme is the expanding singularity.

  • WarpRulez (Mar 23, 2019)

    So "OK is one of the oldest memes that have survived to this day.

  • Eureka (Feb 16, 2019)

    And I thought O.K. was a shortcut for 'okay'

  • Danial W. (Dec 20, 2018)

    2018: Why we say "OK"2050: Why we say "Oof"2100: Why we say "E"

  • In 2119 we say -yeet- RIP library of Alexandria