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eppur_se_muova

(36,175 posts)
Mon Nov 2, 2020, 11:03 AM Nov 2020

What's the Real Origin of "OK"? (Mental Floss) {not exactly LBN}

BY Arika Okrent
April 11, 2013

"OK" is the all-purpose American expression that became an all-purpose English expression that became an all-purpose expression in dozens of other languages. It can be an enthusiastic cheer (A parking spot! OK!), an unenthusiastic "meh" (How was the movie? It was…OK.), a way to draw attention to a topic shift (OK. Here's the next thing we need to do), or a number of other really useful things. It's amazing that we ever got along without it at all. But we did. Until 1839.

There may be more stories about the origin of "OK" than there are uses for it: it comes from the Haitian port "Aux Cayes," from Louisiana French au quai, from a Puerto Rican rum labeled "Aux Quais," from German alles korrekt or Ober-Kommando, from Chocktaw okeh, from Scots och aye, from Wolof waw kay, from Greek olla kalla, from Latin omnes korrecta. Other stories attribute it to bakers stamping their initials on biscuits, or shipbuilders marking wood for "outer keel," or Civil War soldiers carrying signs for "zero killed."

The truth about OK, as Allan Metcalf, the author of OK: The Improbable Story of America's Greatest Word, puts it, is that it was "born as a lame joke perpetrated by a newspaper editor in 1839." This is not just Metcalf's opinion or a half remembered story he once heard, as most OK stories are. His book is based in the thorough scholarship of Allen Walker Read, a Columbia professor who for years scoured historical sources for evidence about OK, and published his findings in a series of journal articles in 1963 to 1964.

It started with a joke

OK, here's the story. On Saturday, March 23, 1839, the editor of the Boston Morning Post published a humorous article about a satirical organization called the "Anti-Bell Ringing Society " in which he wrote:

The "Chairman of the Committee on Charity Lecture Bells," is one of the deputation, and perhaps if he should return to Boston, via Providence, he of the Journal, and his train-band, would have his "contribution box," et ceteras, o.k.—all correct—and cause the corks to fly, like sparks, upward.

It wasn't as strange as it might seem for the author to coin OK as an abbreviation for "all correct." There was a fashion then for playful abbreviations like i.s.b.d (it shall be done), r.t.b.s (remains to be seen), and s.p. (small potatoes). They were the early ancestors of OMG, LOL, and tl;dr. A twist on the trend was to base the abbreviations on alternate spellings or misspellings, so "no go" was k.g. (know go) and "all right" was o.w. (oll write). So it wasn't so surprising for someone come up with o.k. for oll korrect. What is surprising is that it ended up sticking around for so long while the other abbreviations faded away.
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more: https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/50042/whats-real-origin-ok
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What's the Real Origin of "OK"? (Mental Floss) {not exactly LBN} (Original Post) eppur_se_muova Nov 2020 OP
who knew... dhill926 Nov 2020 #1
Or "oo knew" ? eppur_se_muova Nov 2020 #3
O-Tay! Laelth Nov 2020 #2
Oklahoma is OK. Harker Nov 2020 #4
No. Aristus Nov 2020 #6
Martin van Buren was Old Kinderhook. Mc Mike Nov 2020 #5
Mr. Artemas Ward, Sir, Likely Stuck the Thing The Magistrate Nov 2020 #7

The Magistrate

(95,194 posts)
7. Mr. Artemas Ward, Sir, Likely Stuck the Thing
Mon Nov 2, 2020, 12:19 PM
Nov 2020

He was a widely popular humorist, numbering among his fans Mr. Lincoln himself. He did employ the 'oil kerrect' for 'all correct' in his entertainments, and frequently did a abbreviate this to OK

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