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 (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)

    Ok.

  • Luis Eduardo Grijalva (Apr 22, 2019)

    Ok

  • Teixeira (Sep 15, 2018)

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

  • Charlie O'Connor (1 day ago)

    The year is 2347 and humanity tunes in telepathically to the braincast of the U.N. envoy’s General Ambassador to the Mars colonies as he performs a traditional twerk to greet his gender neutral Chancellor and First Host before commencing the trade negotiations on behalf of Earth. The livestream chat erupts with thoughts of clapping emojis and well wishes of keeping it dignified, and above all, most one hunnit 👏👏💯💯👏👏👏👏💯👏

  • Gabriel Palacios (4 days ago)

    Oh ok

  • Name not found (Dec 16, 2018)

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

  • Yeet

  • Angel Murchison (3 days ago)

    Arashi Kage lmfao that’s a strange statement to make in 2019, generation Z has barely even gotten started.

  • 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???

  • justførkicks (20 hours 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

  • My - Pillow (20 hours ago)

    Yes

  • Sri (Apr 19, 2019)

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

  • Simön Faur (5 days ago)

    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.

  • inkyguy (Nov 25, 2018)

    "Okay.""Meme."Now you've already read 95% of the comments that follow.

  • popcorn pretzel (Sep 24, 2018)

    I think "Knuff Ced" was the most unexpected part of this video

  • Simön Faur (5 days ago)

    +Chief Bill You just aren't iNtElLeCtUaL 'knuff, oll korrekt?

  • Chief Bill (Oct 29, 2018)

    Ikr but that Ced kinda annoys me. Knuff aint that bad

  • caramel coffee (Mar 16, 2019)

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

  • My - Pillow (20 hours ago)

    Show them this

  • Abdan Arif Kuncoro (1 day ago)

    right or wrong is just the matter of time, and perseption 😂

  • WarpRulez (Mar 23, 2019)

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

  • Storm Arrow (Dec 7, 2018)

    But why do some people spell it ok and others okay?

  • Good Boy Fayez (May 7, 2019)

    Okay ok uk... uh wait a second

  • Dhanush l (Apr 8, 2019)

    I spell it as wokay