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Why we say “OK”

  • Published on: 12 September 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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  • Runtime : 5:22
  • OK okay history linguistics language vox Vox.com etymology origin newspaper telegraph martin van buren old kinderhook ok club explain explainer why we say ok origin of ok why we say okay origin of okay what does okay mean what does ok mean

COMMENTS: 40

  • Vox
    Vox   1 months ago

    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

  • Connor
    Connor   6 hours ago

    Because it’s short for “okilly dokilly.”

  • MIDOGALI
    MIDOGALI   13 hours ago

    The narrator's voice was not okay.

  • Ice21
    Ice21   1 days ago

    Take a shot every time you hear 'OK' in this video.

  • Nick
    Nick   1 days ago

    Well if ok is neutral then how do we know if the ok someone gives is positive or negative. Context i guess

  • AlphaEnt2
    AlphaEnt2   1 days ago

    Even in latin america we use the OK word.

  • Ties de Jong
    Ties de Jong   1 days ago

    Okay, we'll stop the gag now... it's gone too far.

  • Lee Anderson
    Lee Anderson   1 days ago

    So could this technically be the oldest living literary meme?

  • Newt
    Newt   1 days ago

    after this vid OK looks kinda weird or am i the only one? like it just looks weird

  • Hanhil
    Hanhil   1 days ago

    So wait... It's not correct to write 'Okay'? It's only legitimate if I use 'O.K' because it's meant to be an abbreviation?

  • Snikta
    Snikta   2 days ago

    Thumbs down for using Strong Bad in vain.

  • LVC HE
    LVC HE   2 days ago

    This video was All Korrect