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Not Knowing The History Of Okay Is Not Ok

First used around 150 years old, the word traces its roots back to 19th century Boston.

OK – One of the most-frequently-used terms. Ever imagined, the countless number of times we subconsciously use this term. On calls, messages, while talking to peers and so on & so forth. Has anyone wondered about the person or tribe behind its introduction? ‘Ok’ might be the most recognizable word on the planet. One of the most versatile words in English, it can be used as a noun, adjective or even as a verb. First used around 150 years old, the word traces its roots back to 19th century Boston.

As per HuffPost’s Senior Science Editor, the word’s origin seems slightly argumentative. Some say it originated from The Native Indian American tribe, Choctaw’s word ‘okeh’, while some believe that it arrived from a word in the wolf language of sub-Saharan Africa.

Another article which was published in Smithsonian magazine states that ‘OK’ has its roots in early 19th Century Boston – A time when writers found it trendy to use playful abbreviations. According to that theory, celebrated Etymologist Dr Allen Walker Read argued that ‘OK’ first appeared as an abbreviation for ‘Oll Korrect’ in a satirical piece on grammar that was published in the Boston Morning Post in 1839. The abbreviation was used as a reference to state that everything is in order. Soon thereafter, other newspapers too picked up ‘OK’ in their usage, adding to its wide acceptance.

The term gained immense national prominence during the 1840 United States presidential election when supporters of the Democratic Political Party claimed that it stood for ‘Old Kinderhook’, a nickname for their presidential candidate.

While modern linguists have developed contemporary expressions such as LOL (Laugh Out Loud) or BRB (Be Right Back), or the currently trending WFH (Work From Home), it will not be wrong to consider OK as the father of such expressions.

What do you think?

Written by Smita Diwan

Smita Diwan is a Media & Communication evangelist with 15+ years of steady growth. She has served across diverse verticals of Broadcast Journalism, Corporate Communications, Digital Media and Public Relations. A fitness enthusiast, Smita devotes her ‘rare’ free-time to yoga and meditation. As she strongly believes that the right balance is the key to steady growth.

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