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  9 days ago+3994

    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

  • Vincent Pellegrini
    Vincent Pellegrini 9 minutes ago

    so was Van Buren the very first /r/FellowKids?

  • M&Ms
    M&Ms 11 minutes ago

    Ok

  • nicholas williams
    nicholas williams 19 minutes ago

    OKUUURRR

  • Rated K
    Rated K 34 minutes ago

    GOT EMMM

  • Unicorn Mcgeehee
    Unicorn Mcgeehee 58 minutes ago+1

    In 150 years people are going to be disecting why everyone says yeet

  • Johannes Nilses
    Johannes Nilses 2 hours ago

    ok

  • Ana Helene
    Ana Helene 2 hours ago

    I was literally asking myself that question the other day

  • Kevin Hernandez
    Kevin Hernandez 2 hours ago

    K

  • Elevating Europe
    Elevating Europe 3 hours ago

    Shouldn’t we be saying AC instead of OK?

  • Avery Badnaem
    Avery Badnaem 3 hours ago

    ok

  • Alan Fox
    Alan Fox 3 hours ago

    Okay is even part of the German language. I thought okay came from the OK corral and shooting in the wild west.

  • Ali Reyes
    Ali Reyes 3 hours ago

    *OKRRRRRRRR* *tongue pop*

  • Mr. Ouija
    Mr. Ouija 4 hours ago

    Did the Ku Klux Klan have the "K" craze?

  • MOI KUN ASE
    MOI KUN ASE 4 hours ago

    K

  • TxT Peer
    TxT Peer 4 hours ago

    Twitch.tv/txtpeer subcribe an follow me 🤗

  • permen kapas
    permen kapas 5 hours ago

    *iM nOt OkAaAaaAy*

  • Prasenjit Shukla
    Prasenjit Shukla 5 hours ago

    That's OK. But how it got transformed from OK to Okay, Oki, K... Social media invention. Great story @VOX

  • Nipah Auauau
    Nipah Auauau 6 hours ago

    Imagine if in the future "doggo" supplants the word "dog".