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OK

Postby Dr. Goodword » Thu Feb 28, 2008 11:34 pm

• OK •


Pronunciation: o-kayHear it!

Part of Speech: Interjection, Adjective, etc.

Meaning: 1. [Adjective, adverb] Alright, acceptable, all correct. 2. [Interjection] Yes, agreeable, agreed—a positive response to an inquiry.

Notes: We often talk of words English snitches from other languages. Today's Good Word is English's greatest gift back to those languages. Virtually every language spoken in a region with TV sets uses OK. Still, we have not agreed on how it should be spelled, so at this point, OK or okay are acceptable. Periods are not generally used in the form OK but capitalization is essential. The only derivation is the silly variant okey-dokey.

In Play: Today's Good Word is also one of the most versatile words in the world. You may use it as a noun: "I got his OK on it," as a verb, "Did Hatson OK the deal with Coates?" as an adjective: "Fuzzy Shott did an OK job on the wedding pictures," as an adverb: "Little seems to be getting along OK with Biggs down at the plant," or as an interjection: "OK, I'll do it tomorrow as soon as I get up." OK (Okay if you must) is a lexical schmoo.

Word History: In the early 19th century it was not only OK to offend immigrant minorities, it was a very popular pastime. OK began its life as the abbreviation of "oll korrect", ostensibly a jibe at immigrant spelling and/or pronunciation. The first preserved publication of OK with an explanation appeared in the March 23, 1839 edition of the Boston Morning Post. A. W. Read, who made this discovery, found the same explanation in about a dozen other newspapers of the time. Still, OK probably would have been forgotten except for the 1840 presidential campaign of Martin Van Buren of Kinderhook, NY. Van Buren used the name "Old Kinderhook" in his campaign and abbreviated it OK. This became a cause of amusement when his opponents claimed that it stood for "oll korrect", a spelling, they claimed, Van Buren picked up from Andrew Jackson when he served under Jackson as Vice President. (Brighid McCarthy is far better than OK for suggesting that we discuss the most widely used single word in the world.)
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Re: OK

Postby Stargzer » Fri Feb 29, 2008 5:36 pm

Dr. Goodword wrote: A. W. Read, who made this discovery, found the same explanation in about a dozen other newspapers of the time. ...


Allen Walker Read was an eminent etymologyst who wrote many article in American Speech. He even researched the origins of the Civil War "Rebel Yell," although it's been 38 years since I read Read's article.

Here you can hear two versions of a Rebel Yell by Pvt. Thomas N. Alexander of the 37th North Carolina Troops, a North Carolina veteran of the Civil War who was 90 years old when this was recorded in 1935.
Regards//Larry

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Re: OK

Postby sluggo » Sun Mar 02, 2008 2:45 pm

Dr. Goodword wrote:... In the early 19th century it was not only OK to offend immigrant minorities, it was a very popular pastime. OK began its life as the abbreviation of "oll korrect", ostensibly a jibe at immigrant spelling and/or pronunciation.

The xenophobic element implied here is at some variance with another popular take:

The 1830s and '40s was the time of an extremely popular fad in which normal expressions were given facetious or “sportive” spellings and acronyms such as “N.C.” for “’nuff ced” or “K.Y.” for “know yuse.”

from (this garrulous source)

Among many other derivation theories was the Choctaw:
... Seeger said he based his statement about "okay" on Choctaw traditions such as the one that Andrew Jackson heard the expression from the Choctaw during the Indian Wars before he passed it on to the rest of the world. One apocryphal story has a Choctaw warrior using the expression to Andrew Jackson to express victory at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815. In 1840 a “Jackson Breast Pin” was advertised celebrating "the hero of New Orleans and having upon it…the very frightful letters O.K."
(op. cit.)
(full disclosure: while the author lists impressive footnoted research, he also misattributes Woody Guthrie's song This Land is Your Land to Pete Seeger)

Other contender pretenders, stretching to degrees that are probably not OK:

-... during the Civil War, when batallions returned from the front, the first man in line carried a sign with the number of soldiers killed in action in that group. So the signs stated "9 Killed", "5 killed" and so on. If the number was zero, they stated "O K", a perfect mark.

-... during the glorious days of the telegraph, there was a man named Oscar Kent, who never commited mistakes in his transmissions. Then, if the telegraph message was signed "O.K." all was correct.

- Additionally, in German the expression "Ohne Korrekten" means "without correction" and in Greek "Ola Kala" means "everything's fine".

(found here)

Dr. Goodword wrote: ...The only derivation is the silly variant okey-dokey.

- also the even sillier and thankfully transient "o-tay" (RIP) and the abbreviated "k". There was apparently some usage of the spelling okeh in the time of the record label of that name, which also featured a Choctaw logo in its earliest incarnations.

Dr. Goodword wrote:OK (Okay if you must) is a lexical schmoo.

-Well, OK! Now there's a turn of phrase :D

-it would be illustrative to many, I suspect, to include the link to shmoo included in the front page WotD. I for one had to look it up.
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OK = okay

Postby eberntson » Fri Sep 10, 2010 11:14 am

So I get all the OK stories about O.K. (all correct), or "0 Killed". But where do we get the spelling of "okay"... how are these two spelling linked? Don't just tell me they were the same, there is a story here.

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EBERNTSON
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Postby Perry » Fri Sep 10, 2010 4:46 pm

It's a great question, for which a quick internet search was unable to provide an answer. it's okay/OK with me if someone else comes up with the goods.
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Postby Slava » Fri Sep 10, 2010 5:55 pm

Does this help?

www.etymonline.com wrote: OK

1839, only survivor of a slang fad in Boston and New York c.1838-9 for abbreviations of common phrases with deliberate, jocular misspellings (cf. K.G. for "no go," as if spelled "know go"); in this case, "oll korrect." Further popularized by use as an election slogan by the O.K. Club, New York boosters of Democratic president Martin Van Buren's 1840 re-election bid, in allusion to his nickname Old Kinderhook, from his birth in the N.Y. village of Kinderhook. Van Buren lost, the word stuck, in part because it filled a need for a quick way to write an approval on a document, bill, etc. The noun is first attested 1841; the verb 1888. Spelled out as okeh, 1919, by Woodrow Wilson, on assumption that it represented Choctaw okeh "it is so" (a theory which lacks historical documentation); this was ousted quickly by okay after the appearance of that form in 1929. Okey-doke is student slang first attested 1932. Greek immigrants to America who returned home early 20c. having picked up U.S. speech mannerisms were known in Greece as okay-boys, among other things.
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Postby eberntson » Sat Sep 11, 2010 10:43 am

So you are telling me because they teach the spelling of OK as "okay" in American Greek school, that it's spelling got adopted as the proper spelling for OK in the USofA? Although plausible, that is really a thin trail from here to Greece, and back again. Is there a hobbit and a gold ring involved? :wink: Thanks for looking and coming up with that.

I remember a time when I got points off a report because of a "mis-spelled" OK, and was told it was "okay". I think I need to have my permanent record amended and get those 3 points back. :lol:

Anyone else have a documented trail?

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An OK Post at Lingua Franca

Postby Slava » Mon Feb 17, 2014 8:48 pm

Here is An OK Post at Lingua Franca:

http://chronicle.com/blogs/linguafranca ... -years-ok/

I never knew there was a OK-day for celebrating the birth of OK.

Sounds OK by me. OK by you?

Wasn't "Okay, okay" a Robin Williams line in something or other? Or was it someone else?

OK, bye for now.
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Re: O-tay

Postby David McWethy » Sat Feb 22, 2014 3:46 pm

The expression “O-tay!” was popularized in the Hal Roach “Our Gang” comedy series, and is generally associated with the character “Buckwheat”, an African-American core-group member (played by Billie Thomas from 1933-43, who died of a heart attack at the age of 49).
“…[T]he character he played was often the subject of controversy in later years for containing elements of the ‘pickaninny’ stereotype…”,
but the pronunciation is more likely due to a speech impediment that Thomas had.
“The "Buckwheat"…character…became known for his…garbled dialogue, in particular …[the] catchphrase, "O-tay!"

(Source: http://www.ask.com/wiki/Billie_Thomas)
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