The English Word O.K.’s Origins & Uses

Check out the origins and uses of the word 'O.K.' Click To Tweet

Theories Abound About the Origins of the English Word ‘O.K.’

I wonder if the English word ‘O.K.’ is the most spoken word in the world? Everywhere I go, no matter what language people are speaking, I hear their speech peppered with ‘OK’s.

Where did it come from? When did it come into use? There are so many theories about this. Here are the leading ones.

Theory #1 – it comes from the Scots expression och aye
Theory #2 – it comes from the Greek ola kala (‘it is good’)
Theory #3 – it comes from the Choctaw Indian oke or okeh (‘it is so’)
Theory #4 – it comes from the French aux Cayes (‘from Cayes’, a port in Haiti with a reputation for good rum) or au quai (‘to the quay’, as supposedly used by French-speaking dockers)
Theory #5 – it comes from the initials of a railway freight agent called Obediah Kelly who is said to have written them on documents he had checked
Theory #6 – it comes from an abbreviation of orl korrekt , a jokey misspelling of ‘all correct’ which was current in the US in the 1830s
Theory #7 – it comes from Black slaves of West African origin, and represents a word meaning ‘all right, yes indeed’ in various West African languages

The oldest written reference ties this word to a slogan by the Democratic party during an American Presidential election of 1840. The candidate, President Martin Van Buren, was nicknamed ‘Old Kinderhook’ (for his birthplace in New York State). His supporters formed an ‘OK Club’, which undoubtedly helped to popularize the term.

Maybe, with all these people saying ‘ok’ everywhere, the sound just seemed to be universal and took on a life of it’s own.

Want to see what it means in the United States?

‘O.K.’ can have different meanings and uses, depending on what tone you use & how and when you say it. Watch this YT video.

 

 

 

Why do people pronounce "turmeric" as "tumeric"?That is a crazy question to ask! Here is the answer. Reason #1: It’s hard to articulate two syllables that end in R consequently, especially since the first one starts with T,...
I am insecure about my English. How do I get over this?The problem: People tell me I use too many big words! What can I do to sound better? The answer: Hang around (socialize) with native speakers more—do things with them so you bec...
How can I identify the main concepts when reading a chapter in a textbook?Identifying the concepts or main ideas in a chapter of academic text can be challenging in a second language. Here are two links to useful information about main ideas and concept...
PlayPhrase.Me, a fun way to study English intonationAre you interested in English intonation? Do you want to understand how tone is used in different settings, and by different people? Go to playphrase.me, type in a common phrase...
What is the difference in pronunciation between the 2 'th' sounds at the end of words?What is the difference in pronunciation between the 'th' sounds, theta and ð, at the end of words? Answered by Peggy Tharpe They are the same sound basically. The only diffe...
What is the difference between phonology and pronunciation?My answer to What is the difference between phonology and pronunciation? Answer by Peggy Tharpe: Phonology is a linguistics term. It is the study of the sounds and relationsh...
Best way to learn English in English-speaking country as lonely tourist?My answer to What is the best activity to learn English in an English-speaking country as lonely tourist? Answer by Peggy Tharpe: How about looking through the town/city’s ...
When is the best time for a child to learn English?My answer to the question: "When is the best time for a child to learn English?" on Quora.com The best time for children to develop a native-like “feel” for English intonati...
How Can I Improve My Pronunciation and Intonation?Read Peggy Tharpe's answer to How can I improve my pronunciation and intonation? on Quora
Do English learners make sentences too complicated?Read Peggy Tharpe's answer to Why do many English learners make sentences and phrases more complicated than they need to be? on Quora