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 think Vox got the Morse Code wrong. A quick search shows that "O" is "..." not ".." at 2:44 can you double check?

    • +nikos papadopoulos Turks are ancestors of Anglosaxons, Bulgarians, Hungarians.. . Black or Blue eyed black, blond and red haired warrior nation aiming to establish a one/a world state coming from East and Middle Asia rolling into all Europe, Scandinavia, Britain.. carrying their linguistic ancestary too: Attila and Mete Khans are key historical figures to meet the link. .. Nevertheless more than %50 Finnish vocabulary where being of Turkish language origin, especially many English words are considerably or very directly are same or their structures are of same consonants. As for German.. their history includes an era of defness and thonglesness. So they articulating the words with more hardship asin much strongness or strength.. where also word variations are more and with much of spree from the authentic Asian backgrounds (Asian Turkish) in comparison to the English. .. I know Turkish and English.. and can easily see the linguistic characteristics intersections in their authentic progeny and what we read in history thar took place with the actions of Attila and Mete Khans explain the how, why questionaries.. and terms are easily explicit to those are well educated in history and structures of langusges issues. Even today.. the vowels at times driving some into hardship, especially those who are not aware of the authentic stances of English and Turkish, about comprehension/configuring of the very same wordalites of the two languages. And for sure there is an issue of rule of change of articulations and meaning variations as one issue at first fir many academicians.. but.. though even in 70s these rules have been written are cited in encyclopedias.. (like Larousse) the cultural exploitation age has not left a place or time for these serious realities be seen by most. The postmodern age is destroying the reality of all humanity along with healthy sex stances, concept of family, ecosystems, cultures.. thar us not a surprise one to get overwhelmed by hearing the English-German-Bulgarian-Turk relations be it by ancestory or linguistically.

    • Vox Your Morse code was a bit off...

  • Ok

  • I thought it was for okay

  • Whenever you go to a website, if the page loads the server returned a "200 OK" HTTP Status code. So even computers say "OK."

  • Worst pet shop. ever.

  • I don't buy it

  • I thought it was a short version of okay

  • Micha chahta anumpa anumpoli li :-) I speak Choctaw. Chahta sia hoke. I am Choctaw. Ok is a Choctaw word.

  • So AOK?

  • Mortal Kombat

  • this is so sad, *alexa* play despacito *ok*

  • Ok Jaanu

  • K

  • The video was ok

  • And now we just say K. I love humanity sometimes!!!!

  • k

  • So when did we start adding "ay" to "ok"?

  • The meme that will never die

  • But like... I screamed when Gerard said Okay 😝

  • Ayeee

  • Ok

  • Ok

  • Crazy that this company was made by a literal white supremacist

  • I always spell it okay

  • k

  • Okkkk 🤷🏽‍♂️

  • Worst pet shop. Ever.

  • I thought It was "Are you walking Annie"

  • Ok


  • No one punch man reference?

  • The strongest meme in history

  • Krusty Krab

  • We did not go to the moon

  • Memes live forever.

  • OK, thanks,

  • Ok

  • Of course it was in Boston

  • me: weird flex but -ok- _oll korrect_

  • *Okay*

  • ok

  • Ok then

  • Ok

  • So it all came from a meme in the 1800s? The power of memes yall

  • Weird flex but ok

  • us-tv.org/tv/video-BW1aX0IbZOE.html "Okey"

  • This has made me suffer from semantic saturation.

  • ok

  • Using Stella as an example = amazeballs.

  • 0:17 got em lmao

  • 3:18 ERRR What do you mean boi it goes .abcdefghijKlmnopqrstuvwxyz???

  • k

  • Ok but why are people spelling an abbreviation like this: Okay.

  • Ok

  • I thought okay meant all right I have not finished video but the way.

  • Ok

  • OK

  • Ok.

  • Ok i get it..

  • I try my hardest to not say that word because I realized I say it way too much.

  • The Im not okay Bit tho-

  • Ok

  • Your mum gay Know Yuse

  • Ok.

  • k

  • kc guys

  • 3:44 like ku klux klan ok I'll just leave now

  • Lol, my parents called me and I said ok I barely remember saying it!😂

  • Hopefully, yeet will be the most used word in 2100.

  • Ok

  • oh, no no, I'm not okay

  • (I Promise)

  • *Okay*

  • I thought the guy who said *ok* would pop up...

  • Ok.

  • Ok

  • 4:25 I love you

  • 4:26 is that a wild boyle???

  • Intro woke up my cat and I don't have a cat

  • Horrifying. I refuse to continue using a word with such a dumb origin.

  • When did the extra “ay” at the end of “okay” come into play and why?

    • Because OK pronounced like "okay", i guess

  • ok

  • now everytime i'll hear ok i'll remember this

  • Okay

  • ok

  • I havent been an emo for like a year and Im not ok at the beginning really got me hahah

  • ok so?

  • "K"ardashian

  • In year 3050 there will a video that say why we say LOL

  • OK

  • so this is where the kardashians kame from

  • The Krusty Krab Mr. Krabs really knows his stuff

  • I thought OK meant OBJECTION KILLED?

  • So, explain the word Okay. Why do we spell it as both ok and okay?

  • Oll korrect? How is it different from all correct

  • *ok*

  • So back in the 1800's memes didn't die within a week??

  • Ok then

  • Oh Ok

  • Ok