But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.
~ George Orwell
Returning to our mini-series where we take a look at the meaning of some words in our language I’ve chosen to take a look at what does ok stand for? We’ve learned about what i.e. means and also the meaning of archive.
But we use ok or okay so often and perhaps it might be interesting to learn a bit more about what it actually means and where it comes from.
So to start things off, I like to to turn to the Oxford Dictionary for a meaning of okay: used to express agreement or acceptance: Though there are other meanings as the word OK can be used as a verb: The judge OK’d the divorce settlement. It can also be used as a noun: My boss gave me the OK to go home as well as an adjective – which is how I think we most often use the word ok: My sandwich was OK, and lastly we can use it as an adverb: Mike Tyson still boxes OK.
That’s a lot of meanings for one little word isn’t it? But they all seem to suggest a similar meaning which is to express agreement or satisfaction or approval depending on the use.
So that is the meaning of OK, which as you can see is usually written in both upper case letters though If ind the use of it in lower case to be fine too. But the real thrust I think of this blog post is to answer the literal question posed: What does OK stand for?
Meaning, what is the etymology, history of the word OK or how did it come about.
Well firstly, it is of American origin and the first noted instance of its use is in 1790 as O.K., but that doesn’t really help us.
There are many suggested origins of the word ok or OK or O.K., apparently none of which have become unanimously agreed upon as the real origin. Most of the suggested beginnings of the word OK have come about after the first documented use as described above in 1790 where it was used in a court document from Tennessee.
However, I quite like a few of these interpreted meanings of the beginning usage of OK. Here are some of the more popular ones.
1. The Oxford Dictionary suggest that it was the humorous interpretation Orl Korrect from All Correct which was popularized as a slogan during President Van Buren’s re-election campaign of 1840. His nickname of Old Kinderhook is also suggested as offering up the initials for OK. Old Kinderhook is derived from his birthplace.
2. Another major interpretation is that OK comes from the Choctaw word okeh or hoke.
3. Some have thought that ok comes from the Wolof or Bantu word waw-kay or even perhaps the Mande phrase o ke.
Those are the 3 major interpretations that have received some academic support as Wikipedia puts it. You can follow that link to learn much more about the word OK.
It is an interesting word with a colourful history. An Americanism that has spread to much of the rest of the world too. Okey dokey or Okie dokie means the same as ok and has been around at least since the 1930s thanks to The Little Rascals.
I hope that you have found this little treatise about what ok stands for to be okely dokely as Flanders would say 🙂