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Why we say “OK”

  • Published on: 12 September 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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  • Runtime : 5:22
  • OK okay history linguistics language vox Vox.com etymology origin newspaper telegraph martin van buren old kinderhook ok club explain explainer why we say ok origin of ok why we say okay origin of okay what does okay mean what does ok mean


  • Vox
    Vox   1 weeks ago

    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

  • Lil Swiss Role
    Lil Swiss Role   18 minuts ago

    now i’m gonna be noticing “ok” everywhere

  • Edward J. Cunningham
    Edward J. Cunningham   20 minuts ago

    One thing that this video did not explain---but I wish it did----was how much the word "OK" is used in non-English languages, and how it spread beyond English.

  • Jess Gent
    Jess Gent   5 hours ago

    Anyone always spell it as okay?

  • ansaree97
    ansaree97   6 hours ago

    Why are the top two comments the same

  • Mauricio Vazquez
    Mauricio Vazquez   6 hours ago

    Yeah Cops Alway say Ok.Ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok. I understand ok ok ok. You have the right to remain silent bla bla bla. Ok

  • WeMeanDaBiz
    WeMeanDaBiz   6 hours ago

    Lil John 😂😂💀💀💀 I was not expecting that

  • ComicSavagery
    ComicSavagery   7 hours ago

    This means i dont need to feel bad about finding misspelled sentences hilarious

  • Jacques Long
    Jacques Long   8 hours ago

    i never knew i wanted to know about this but im not upset about it

  • blackhawk0606
    blackhawk0606   10 hours ago

    2:46 , isn't - - - the morse code for the letter O ?

  • meloD30
    meloD30   11 hours ago

    This is just too good to be true.Hmmm.... it's not April Fools...

  • Porjay
    Porjay   11 hours ago


  • Mad Pyer
    Mad Pyer   11 hours ago

    Basically it's a legendary meme that became so powerful it became part of the human language.

  • Sharp Shooter
    Sharp Shooter   12 hours ago

    Did u read my mind, Vox? I was just thinking about it a few days back!