The other day I was asked, “How are you doing today?” and I responded with, “OK.”  Those two letters that make the word, float in my mind a lot.  I like the way they look together and I like the ways in which the word is used – Sarcastically, blandly, mildly, thumbs up – so many things!  I found this article about the history of OK and it is pretty okay!

Excerpt from How ‘OK’ took over the world by Allan Metcalf (BBC):

So it was in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, in the late 1830s, when newspaper editors enjoyed inventing fanciful abbreviations, like “WOOOFC” for “with one of our first citizens” and OW for “all right”.  Needless to say, neither of these found a permanent place in the language. But they provided the unusual context that enabled the creation of OK.  On 23 March 1839, OK was introduced to the world on the second page of the Boston Morning Post, in the midst of a long paragraph, as “o.k. (all correct)”.  How this weak joke survived at all, instead of vanishing like its counterparts, is a matter of lucky coincidence involving the American presidential election of 1840.

One candidate, Martin Van Buren, was nicknamed Old Kinderhook, and there was a false tale that a previous American president couldn’t spell properly and thus would approve documents with an “OK”, thinking it was the abbreviation for “all correct”.  Within a decade, people began actually marking OK on documents and using OK on the telegraph to signal that all was well. So OK had found its niche, being easy to say or write and also distinctive enough to be clear.

But there was still only restricted use of OK. The misspelled abbreviation may have implied illiteracy to some, and OK was generally avoided in anything but business contexts, or in fictional dialogue by characters deemed to be rustic or illiterate.  Indeed, by and large American writers of fiction avoided OK altogether, even those like Mark Twain who freely used slang. But in the 20th Century OK moved from margin to mainstream, gradually becoming a staple of nearly everyone’s conversation, no longer looked on as illiterate or slang. Its true origin was gradually forgotten. OK used such familiar sounds that speakers of other languages, hearing it, could rethink it as an expression or abbreviation in their own language.

Thus it was taken into the Choctaw Native American language, whose expression “okeh” meant something like “it is so”.

 

I have been listening to Pearl Jam’s, It’s Ok a lot lately.

 

 

Oh and visit the store OK (on Silverlake Boulevard and 3rd Street) – it is one of my very favorites!

xx SG



stefani greenwood
Stefani Greenwood, Photography, Design
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