Why we say “OK”

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  • Published on:  Wednesday, September 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
    Vox  7 days ago +3899

    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

    • greyztone
      greyztone  3 hours ago

      And the origin of "there's a few"? Come on Vox, we're talking about language here!

    • LulitaInPita
      LulitaInPita  15 hours ago

      I was told it originated from WWII, not the American Civil War, but I'm glad I wasn't the only one who believed that xD

    • Mikrofonlar Kralarına Cevaplar
      Mikrofonlar Kralarına Cevaplar  21 hours ago

      Do you know a few languages (being held in my text) to consider the fact?
      Do you know historical flow of languages along with geography and by their nature of getting altered in time in terms of articulation and pronounciation courses?
      Do yo know (1) phonology and (2) audiology along with (3) human physiology and (4) natural physics terms?
      I do know three languages plus the four technical items sufficient for the subject I am handling.. really.. considerably per+fect-ly!
      Weird is what you say (and do) whithout basis for any proofing grounds (especially asby with such a short way of expressing your judgement after such the length and detail and richness my texts presented) with no argumentation at all!

    • Mikrofonlar Kralarına Cevaplar
      Mikrofonlar Kralarına Cevaplar  22 hours ago

      Please why and how?
      What is your linguistic and historical merit?

    • Jack Anderson
      Jack Anderson  22 hours ago

      Vox *0k*

  • Aimee Mena
    Aimee Mena  seconds ago

    So now I know okay is incorrect, my scrabble better accept ok from now on.

  • Smurf
    Smurf  53 minutes ago

    0 kills

  • Blue Winter
    Blue Winter  an hour ago

    I wonder how many of our modern abbreviations would survive to the next century?
    LOL, PLZ, THX, FYI, FWIW, TTYL, GN, JK, BRB, ASAP, ppl, cz

  • chongjunxiang3002
    chongjunxiang3002  an hour ago

    S U K K my D I K K

  • chongjunxiang3002
    chongjunxiang3002  an hour ago

    500 years later, VOX publish a video about what is lol.

  • Cori Co
    Cori Co  an hour ago

    wH- mcr? I now approve of this video

  • Jman Rip
    Jman Rip  an hour ago


  • Window Wiper Guy
    Window Wiper Guy  3 hours ago


  • ItzRally7
    ItzRally7  3 hours ago

    Potassium is lucky

  • Shahin Tajeri
    Shahin Tajeri  4 hours ago

    00:27 love that album which is the reason that i clicked on this video XD

  • T Ig
    T Ig  4 hours ago

    So...it's chatspeak?🤔 And a meme...?

  • God //
    God //  5 hours ago

    I never always said ok in my life. Only AR!

  • Nigga I’m high af


  • beefcakepantiehoes

    Thank you 1830’s Bostonian intellectual memelordes. We’re oll OK now bekause of you.

  • H -Arts
    H -Arts  5 hours ago


  • dolofonos
    dolofonos  5 hours ago

    This creates an interesting etymological question. I don't think it's invalid to acknowledge converging origins any more than to acknowledge a mother's contribution to the genetics of a paternal lineage. Primary origin is not sole origin, and indeed may not be the most important (like saying the Chinese invented space travel merely because of primitive advancements in rocketry). A word like _troll,_ for example, shouldn't be denied as made receptive by virtue of the word's mythological nature, despite a very probable piscatorial origin. All contributions, even when seemingly erroneous, are clearly important to a word's history.

  • Ghofar Lathif
    Ghofar Lathif  6 hours ago

    meanwhile indonesian people are using “oce”