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  8 days ago +3944

    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

    • Geoffrey Marchal
      Geoffrey Marchal  2 hours ago

      False. O.K. from "zero kill" can be trace from the civil war document. And it is actually hard to believe that a joke "oll Korrect" could be wildly supported and spread around USA. Neat!

    • greyztone
      greyztone  14 hours ago

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

    • LulitaInPita
      LulitaInPita  yesterday

      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  yesterday

      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  yesterday

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

  • deadweight
    deadweight  a minute ago


  • deadweight
    deadweight  a minute ago


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    deadweight  2 minutes ago


  • Jess Gent
    Jess Gent  23 minutes ago

    Anyone always spell it as okay?

  • ansaree97
    ansaree97  56 minutes ago +1

    OW OW OW

  • ansaree97
    ansaree97  56 minutes ago +1

    Why are the top two comments the same

  • Mauricio Vazquez
    Mauricio Vazquez  57 minutes ago

    Yeah Cops Alway say Ok.Ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok. I understand ok ok ok. You have the right to remain silent bla bla bla. Ok

  • Odin angie
    Odin angie  an hour ago

    this video is kool

  • WeMeanDaBiz
    WeMeanDaBiz  an hour ago

    Lil John 😂😂💀💀💀 I was not expecting that

  • extrafreshhh
    extrafreshhh  an hour ago


  • Jakob Garcia
    Jakob Garcia  an hour ago


  • Charly Rogers
    Charly Rogers  an hour ago

    Can you make a video on, Why we say "like"

  • Tom DeLonge Fucks My Ass

    "Oh! Kay!"
    -Will Smith

  • Drew Harkson
    Drew Harkson  an hour ago +1

    Well okay then

  • ComicSavagery
    ComicSavagery  an hour ago

    This means i dont need to feel bad about finding misspelled sentences hilarious

  • Oleknuso
    Oleknuso  2 hours ago

    My initials are OK

  • Kevin Messer
    Kevin Messer  2 hours ago

    Ok Google

  • Chuy Gonzalez
    Chuy Gonzalez  2 hours ago

    *"Ok Liberal"*

  • Jacques Long
    Jacques Long  3 hours ago

    i never knew i wanted to know about this but im not upset about it