Why we say “OK”

Published on Sep 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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  • 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

    • Ok

    • I ve heard another vrsion, a guy that was supposed to signed reviewed documents with his name initials, and so he signed OK

    • k

    • Interesting video, but your idea of "oll korrect" makes zero sense --- even if they were college nerds. That would have been 'all' is not 'oll'. There were thousands of Scots immigrants in the U.S. and Canada. Most likely the students [ and others ] heard Scottish Professors speak during class at the colleges. The Greek idea has merit also, because in the 1800's, a college education meant at least one year of Greek and Latin... ( unlike nowadays as they study their bellybutton and their feelings ) . Agree with a few others about the spelling.... "okay" is not the same as O.K. . [( The Hebrew "Oey Vey" comes to mind. )]

    • I heard somewhere the "Oll Korrect" was originally a Jewish slang phrase, that entered common usage in the early 1800s. Apparently, according to this version, it was because8o8o@ European Jews said it that way.

  • Ok

  • That's a question I never asked myself, but still very interesting

  • What about “A” OK?

  • Kapple

  • Cool video! Quite informative.

  • The correct form is ‘okrrr’

  • I thought it was from Ohne Kommentar, No Comments in german.

  • Okey Dokey..


  • Thanks,now I forgot what it is now

  • ok

  • Ok

  • Ok is like one of my favourite words now

  • Ok

  • Ok

  • K or ok or okay?

  • 3:42: Kraft is a German word, in any case.

  • Oll Korect

  • Ok

  • Ok

  • Aw... Now I wanna watch The State.

  • Kaylee

  • So it's not the reverse of knock out as I always thought

  • Of course Katlyn

  • But what about the Morse featured in the video?! Isn't O spelled "- - -"??!! I'm

  • The worst pet store joke 4:49 was more than ok!

  • Being that this is on Vox IDK if I can even believe this. Just look how they edited Jordan Peterson.

  • Åkäj

  • I heard it it was meant to say "zero killed"(o.k) when summarizing a war results

  • "hah"

  • And the world copied America like that always do

  • the video actually turned my lights on😂

  • Very informative

  • Thank God it's "OK" instead of "AC" 😂

  • The ok in this okay vid was okay 👌🏻

  • Okay.

  • 4:22 that's Ashley Tisdale right there, oll korrect?

  • Upvote if you downvoted because you're not illiterate

  • How the heck is O the third most common initial letter in the English language. This entire sentence doesn’t use it as an initial - and that’s without me even trying to avoid it. I did use T and A several times so that makes sense. Now I’m just rambling until a word beginning with O presents itself off the top of my head... and there it is. Took a while.

  • LoL

  • OK Now I Know it.

  • I called my shoe company Kaviar Kicks never knew there was so much behind the K

  • So the Kardashians weren't the first to use the letter K in marketing

  • So it's just a centuries old meme. Thanks memes.

  • I'd heard that it meant 0 killed at war times🤔 also, where's "I'll be OK" by McFly??

  • Why we say Hi And reply Hello

  • I thought It meant 0 kills

  • Oll correct

  • Does this mean that lol is gonna be a everyday normal word in the future

  • Ok is spelled Okay though?

  • Klu Klux Klan pretty much the same reason it was spelt like that. To resonate with the kids.

  • Okie dokie

  • ok i guess

  • Woajh

  • • • - • - thanks

  • k

  • Arguably the most interesting video on US-tv....

  • I was expecting to see the top comment as *OKAY*

  • Ok thanks for letting me know.

  • So why is spelled okay then?

  • But what’s the difference between OK and okay?

  • Do one for lolz

  • Ok

  • I’m changing my name from Cristina to Kristina.

  • What does oky and okey mean then?

  • Ok

  • K

  • Even here in France we use Ok or okay

  • A.K

  • The dutch shipsmen of the V.O.C used the word “O.K” already in 1600. That’s where the Boston Morning Post got the word from. The dutch also uses “Okay” only spelled slightly different: “Oke”, pronounced the same. But because in English - my theory - you pronounce “Oke” as “Oki” there was a mispronounciation and the start of: “Oki Doki”.

  • Is true... Think about that we still use O.K and not just ok

  • Ok

  • Okay*

  • Ok is it's also used now in the Spanish language in most of the countries in North America South America Central America

  • Haha that’s so not what I expected.

  • ACK

  • sure, yes, but where does mmmmhkay come from??

  • us-tv.org/tv/video-B5JRf3dIPJ4.html

  • Stella?

  • Ok

  • Oxygen Potassium

  • O:I K:love beans

  • How did LOL started?

  • Mcr for the win!

  • Ok

  • Ok

  • Ok.

  • Wow could’ve used the iconic okay vine

  • My friend says it 24/7 and it gets really annoying.

  • What if slang today becomes part of our actual language 100 years from now *shivers in fear*

  • I can't watch this video because google turns on every 5s

  • Did vox just perpetuate the white power symbol

  • I've heard the word "okay" so many times in this video, that it now sounds weird

  • I always thought it was just an abbreviation for okay.

  • Ok

  • DILLIGAF wins for originality.

  • Thank you for bringing intelligence and research like this, bravo, brilliant


  • 1:57....that picture!!! 🤣🤣🤣