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History of Using the Word OK


This word has penetrated almost all the languages of the world. It has become a universal element of computer program interfaces. A word that sounds the same and is perceived in every corner of the planet. And yet this word has an amazing fate. Before it began to overcome cultural and language barriers, it existed in the form of a joke, a fashionable language misunderstanding. Here are these two letters, the meaning of which is clear to anyone: OK.

Back to the Origins

Surprisingly, OK appeared in English language more than a hundred and fifty years ago. In the 1830s, the American city of Boston had a fashion for deliberately distorting words. Funny and ridiculous cuts were made from distorted words, for example, OW – oll wright instead of all right.

OK was such humorous cut – "oll korrect", in the sense of all correct, i.e. "everything is right". And, most likely, it would also be forgotten as quickly as it appeared, if not an accidental coincidence. First, the 8th president of America Buren wore the nickname Old Kinderhook and the posters "Vote for OK" probably drove Americans crazy. Secondly, at the time of his predecessor, President Jackson (whose portrait can be seen on a $20 bill), rumors began that he had serious problems with spelling. And he signs important government documents with OK. For the sake of justice, we note that these rumors were groundless, but, also thanks to them, OK was firmly entrenched in colloquial American speech.

At the beginning of the 20th century, OK emerged from the underground. It ceased to be only a slang of "supposedly illiterate ones" and began to appear in business conversations, secular talks and simply in the speech of educated Americans. In a few decades, the word OK began its journey through the languages of the world.

Even legends about the local origin of OK have appeared in other languages. For example, German ohne korrektur (without correction).

OK – This Is Not Super, It Is Good

There are many words to express approval in English language. But OK has taken its unique niche – if all these words are positive grades, then OK is an endorsement that remains neutral, something like "take into consideration".

It is on this value of OK that one of the stamps of Hollywood cinema is built – no matter what a misfortune happened to the hero, from a hiccup attack to falling without a parachute from the stratosphere, the first question to him will be "(Are) you OK?". Laugh as much as you want, but it is really the first thing that comes to your mind in life.

No Objections

OK became part of the popular expression to be OK with something, in the sense of not objecting. It is often used in business conversations. For example:

We wanted to give the customer a discount card, but the management was not OK with it.

I propose to develop this logo in brighter and warm colors. Are you OK with this idea?

The Opposite Of "Excellent"

If a neutral OK is put next to something really good, then it will become something of a disdain. In certain contexts, this can go as far as "nothing special". For example:

The trip outside the city was amazing, as for food, it was OK.

How do you like my new dress? Dress? It is OK.

Gesture OK

OK Gestur

In addition to the word, there is also a gesture – the thumb and index fingers connected in the form of the ring. For example, this is how scuba divers ask and answer that everything is in order – a more familiar "thumb up" would mean a desire to surface. Unlike the word, the gesture has not received such wide distribution throughout the world. On the contrary, in the Arab countries, particularly in Turkey, this gesture is generally better not to use – it can be perceived as a threat or as a charge of homosexuality. And Turkey is not San Francisco, you know.

Here is a story about OK. A strange joke of a hundred and fifty years ago gained a complete linguistic victory over almost all the languages of the world. Whether it is a conversation or a letter, a rare inhabitant of the planet will shrug the shoulders in response to OK.

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