Where Did O.K. Come From?

O.K. Okay. Ok. K.

The variants of okay (or is it O.K?) is what we say when we understand something, an idea or our go-to signifier of “sure…” But, why do we say this? And, with different variants of the same word?

In linguistics, words become shortened or clipped over time to acknowledge a word that has become outdated. In English, words love to be shortened, clipped, and even blended to form another word that is societal acceptable, the meaning staying the same.

Here’s why: the term all correct was used to signify something understood. A humorous Bostonian or New Yorker began oll korrect, especially during the 1840 election. Martin Van Buren was running for re-election and popularized the humorous form of oll korrect as a slogan for his campaign, the O.K. Club. However, the initials were not derived from the oll korrect (would make sense). They were taken from Van Buren’s birthplace, Old Kinderhook, NY: O.K.

Martin Van Buren lost the election, the word stuck. In 1919, Woodrow Wilson spelled the word okeh declaring the word was of Choctaw origin representing “it is so.” (Wilson’s origin lacks historical documentation.) In a 1929 document, the word was spelled okay on a form which stuck today. In 1932, students began the popular okey-doke, evolving into okie-dokie among children today.

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