• OK •
Pronunciation: o-kay • Hear 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 rhyming compound 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 recent immigrants, 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.)