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7

The History of "OK"

Oftentimes, we tend to adopt certain words, phrases, and their meanings without giving a second thought as to why they mean or how they came about. We just accept them as we listen to others use them in certain contexts. One such word is "OK" which generally means "fine", "all correct", or "all right". But how did the word get its meaning and who started it all?

On 23 March 1839, OK was introduced to the world on the second page of the Boston Morning Post, in the midst of a long paragraph, as "o.k. (all correct)". How this weak joke survived at all, instead of vanishing like its counterparts, is a matter of lucky coincidence involving the American presidential election of 1840.
One candidate, Martin Van Buren, was nicknamed Old Kinderhook, and there was a false tale that a previous American president couldn't spell properly and thus would approve documents with an "OK", thinking it was the abbreviation for "all correct".
Within a decade, people began actually marking OK on documents and using OK on the telegraph to signal that all was well. So OK had found its niche, being easy to say or write and also distinctive enough to be clear.

Despite its growing trend, it didn't gain widespread use until the 20th century due to some associating the use of the word to being illiterate. But as with most trends, it found its way into everyday speech and eventually, everyone started to incorporate it in conversations with others.

OK used such familiar sounds that speakers of other languages, hearing it, could rethink it as an expression or abbreviation in their own language. Thus it was taken into the Choctaw Native American language, whose expression "okeh" meant something like "it is so".
US President Woodrow Wilson, early in the 20th Century, lent his prestige by marking okeh on documents he approved. And soon OK was to find its place in many languages as a reminder of a familiar word or abbreviation.

But what is it that makes "OK" okay? Read on to know more about it.

-via Twisted Sifter

(Image credit: d97jro/Pixabay)


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