Friday, March 22, 2013

Happy birthday, OK

On this day, one hundred and seventy-four years ago, America’s most used work, OK, was born.

There are multiple theories for its origins, including that it's a derivation of the Scottish affirmation och aye, or comes from the 2000-year-old Greek expression olla kalla, meaning all right, or from the Choctaw word okeh meaning ''it is true'', or from the initials stamped on US Army biscuits by the Chicago bakery O. Kendall and Sons.

But the truth was uncovered by the late Columbia University scholar of American English, Allen Walker Read. He pinpointed its first use as a piece of would-be humor by an editor in the Boston Morning Post in 1839. It stood for ''Orl Korrect'' a jokey shortening and misspelling of ''all correct''.

It went viral in 1840 when US president Martin Van Buren from Kinderhook, New York, got the nickname ''Old Kinderhook''.

Despite the prevalence of “sweet”, “awesome” and “all good”, okay is still ahead of them today, usage-wise.

So happy birthday OK!

Helen Woodall

Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.


barbara huffert said...

What a nifty bit of trivia. Thank you!

barbara huffert said...
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Helen Woodall: Freelance Editing said...

Glad you liked it. I thought it was kinda cool. Helen