Tuesday, October 24, 2006

OK, O.K., Ok, ok, okay

OK is the English term that being used ubiquitously since globalization. I guess no one will disagree with me on this point. However, have you ever thought about what does this abbreviation stand for? And where does this expression come from? Perhaps many people have the same thought as me: such a trivial word does not need to pay much attention.

Until recently, Tom brought in these questions to our short story class, given that the word OK recurred many times in the story. According to his note, the origin of OK is based on a joke of sorts. During the 1830s there was a humoristic fashion in Boston newspapers to reduce a phrase to initials and supply an explanation in parentheses. Sometimes the abbreviations were misspelled to add to the humor. In March 1839, OK was appeared in print as an abbreviation for “all correct”, the joke being that neither the O nor the K was correct.

Originally spelled with period –-O.K. is derived from OK club, which supported Martin van Buren’s 1840 campaign for reelection. Because he was born in the Kinderhook, New York, Van Buren was nicknamed Old Kinderhook, and the abbreviation O.K. proved eminently suitable for political slogans.

Because it is so widely used, the "okay" spelling of it appeared in British writing in the 1860s. In the 20th century, "okay" has come to be in everyday use among English speakers, and borrowed by non-English speakers.