Log in

No account? Create an account

melilysa in wtf_history

Etymology of "O.K."

Did you know that every time you utter the word "okay", you are forwarding the legacy of the educated teens of the 19th century? "O.K.", the abbreviation of "oll correct*" (popular misspelling for "all correct") was first published (and consequently popularized) in the Boston Morning Post on March 23rd 1839 as part of a joke.

The educated youth of the 1830s enjoyed misspelling and abbreviating words which they then used as slang. However, of all the abbreviations that were popular in the 19th century, only one has crossed into mainstream and adequate english.  Used as a political weapon, "O.K." was both the name of a gang of thugs (the "O.K" Club** were to influence voters into favoring and reelecting president Martin Van Bureen) and a jab at the president's mentor, Andrew Jackson, who had (according to the rival party) invented the abbreviation to camouflage his own grammatical mistake. 

Other debunked theories on the origins of "okay"  include the name of a popular army biscuit (Orrin Kendall), the name of a haitian rum port (Aux Cayes) and the signature of the Choctaw Chief, Old Keokuk.

Let us be thankful for "okay"; the word that has saved us from many an explanation. Nonetheless, let us pray that the phrase "2 kewl 4 skewl" never becomes acceptable english.


*ETA: Though the original source insists "O.K." stems from "oll Correct", varying sources list the misspelling as "oll Korrect'". Typo or diverging first source? Hey history.com, maybe we should start typing it as "OC".

**The "O.K." Club's name is also, ironically, a word play. Meant to reference both the actual term and the president's nickname "Old Kinderhook" (from the name of his hometown: Kinderhook, New York).


This makes me predict that lolspeak will populate the Oxford English Dictionary next century.
u mean dis not purfet words, bby? DDDDD:
See I'm still not sure if I find the etymology of okay hilarious or scary :P
oh god no D:
Woo, I've fulfilled my "learn something new" requirement for today.

Thanks (:

Um.. I am seriously creeped out right now. A few days ago I found myself really wondering where Okay came from, and I wrote on a post-it "Etymology of okay" to remind myself to look, and I haven't been able to look yet.. but.. you.. just.. wow.


I guess great minds think alike! I actually found this because I made http://www.history.com/ my home page. They have this "what happened on your birthday" section and mine is March 23rd... I found this and I was like: "No wayyyyyy, I have to post this."

But still, freaky.
Maybe I should start typing "oll correct" instead of "okay" now in IMs. :D

But this was an interesting post. Thanks for sharing!
My friends already make fun of me for my overly obscure nerdy injokes with myself. I think if I started using 'oll correct' instead of OK I may find I have jumped the shark.
This will probably not stop me from doing it, though.

Great post!
I think it was meant to be "oll korrect", otherwise the acronym doesn't work.
No it really was "oll Correct". If you look at the source article you can see numerous other acronyms such as "KY" for No Use (Know Yuse) or "OW" for All Right (Oll Wright). They purposely misspelled the words and had a habit of changing the first consonants.

My first reaction was pretty much the same though...
Everything I'm running across says "oll korrect," not "oll correct."

Okay, I checked again and I found variations of both. I'll edit the article and add the "k" version as well.