Tag Archives: orl korrect

It’s Not Just an Abbreviation for Oklahoma

 

We’re going to look at O.K. today, okay?

This “word” (or, depending on the form used, these initials) came on the scene around 1840. There was something of a fad at the time of using initials to represent words, much like we do today with Internet slang (brb, lol, lmao, etc.). “O.K.” was initialized shorthand for “orl korrect,” which itself was a slang alteration of “all correct.” Aiding the popularity of this shorthanded notation was its use by telegraphers, not unlike those who take shortcuts with the language today when texting – r u going to b there?”

There was also another development around this time that popularized the initials “O.K.” and that was the presidential campaign of Martin Van Buren. Van Buren was from Kinderhook, New York, and had the nickname of “Old Kinderhook.” A group of Democrats formed the “O.K. Club” to promote Van Buren’s reelection, and the use of the slogan/chant “OK!” was instrumental in popularizing these initials to mean what they do currently: all right. Van Buren ultimately lost reelection to William Henry Harrison, who only served in office for one month before his death from pneumonia.

It would be another fifty years before the word would take the form of “okay” in print, and thirty more still before we would see “okey-dokey” in the early 1930s. “A-okay” came on the scene with the space program of the early 1960s, used by astronauts (and picked up by newsmen) to mean “all okay.”

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