Etymology of the word “OK”

Enero 3, 2010

Root and History of the word “OK”

OK is an American term that has spread from English to many other languages. Its origin was the subject of the scholarly debate for many years until Allen Walker Read showed that OK is based on a joke of sorts. OK is first recorded in 1839 but during 1830’s there was a humoristic fashion in Boston newspapers to reduce a phrase to initials and sometimes the abbreviations were misspelled to add humor. OK was used in March 1839 as an abbreviation for “all correct”, the joke being that neither the O nor the K was correct.

This term outlived most similar abbreviations owing to its use in President Martin Van Buren’s 1840 campaign for re-election. O.K. Club was used as an election slogan by the New York boosters of Buren, in his allusion to his nickname Old Kinderhook, from his birth in the New York village of Kinderhook. The word stuck even Buren lost because it filled a need for a quick way to write an approval on a document, etc. The noun first attested in 1841; the verb 1888.

In 1919, spelled out as okeh by Woodrow Wilson, on the assumption that it represented Choctaw okeh “it is so” which lacks historical documentation. The appearance of okay in 1929 ousted okeh. Okay-doke first attested in 1932 as student slang. The expression was well known in England by the 1880’s. Today OK has achieved worldwide recognition and use. It went on to develop as a verb, adverb, noun, and interjection.

Usage of the word “OK”

Approval; agreement: Get your supervisor’s OK before taking a day off.
Agreeable; acceptable: Was everything OK with your stay?
Satisfactory; good: an OK fellow.
Not excellent and not poor; mediocre: made an OK presentation.
In proper or satisfactory operational or working order: Is the battery OK?
Correct: That answer is OK.
Uninjured; safe: The skier fell but was OK.
Fairly healthy; well: Thanks to the medicine, the patient was OK.
Fine; well enough: a television that works OK despite its age.
To approve of or agree to: OK, I’ll get it for you.

Prediction of New Potential Meaning of “OK”

OK = a dead person

The word OK can be a word opposite of today’s meaning which is in a good condition or healthy. Its new potential meaning can be a word referring to a dead person. For instance: Don’t worry, Mr. X is OK now. Your business can operate freely. In this context, OK means Mr. X is dead. It is possible because the word OK today means that things are settled and fine so if the person that blocks your way or preventing you from doing some things passed away, your problem is settled. But to avoid other people to know the context of your conversation, one might use the opposite meaning of the word. And the person who died is OK because he now rest in peace, somewhat a good condition for some depending on how that person accept it.

OK = being free; freedom

Today, OK means correct, permissible or acceptable. With this, we can predict that the word OK can be equivalent to being free or having freedom because we can associate it if your actions are approved by authorities then you are now free to move and do what you wanted to do.

OK = Only Kid ; Only Kiss

We can recall that OK was used by New York boosters of Pres. Buren in 1980, in allusion to the initials of Old Kinderhook, Buren’s nickname derive from his birthplace. There is a great possibility that people might use OK as initial for a phrase or concept like OK can mean only kid or only kiss. Instead of using only kid or only kiss in full words, it is much easier to use shortcut by using its initials. For instance: Matthew is the OK (only kid) in the family. ; She would give her OK (only kiss) to the man that she loves. [ Romantic people might use this term.]

Note: Try to check out this website (http://www.ejournals.ph). There are articles, studies, and research papers that can be found here that will surely help you a lot!


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