One of the minor quirks that sticks in the craw of my childhood memories is how dad’s friend Edward said “OK”. That is, I never heard him say, “OK”. With him it was always “okey-dokey” or “okey-doke”. I never asked Edward about his non-use of “OK” because his habit was just part of his cheerful personality.

OK is my favorite affirmation to use in casual company. There’s just something upbeat about it. If life throws me a curve-ball, I can always take a step back and remember that, so far, my life has generally been OK.

Today is “OK Day”, so that’s why it’s OK for me to have OK as today’s topic. So I called on Wikipedia for its etymology. It turns out the “OK” has plenty of possible originations. The most popular explanations are somewhat humorous.

One of them claims that OK are the intitials of “oll korrect” because, apparently, there was a fad in the 1830s to use deliberate, comical misspellings and abbreviations. What else was there to do for fun in the 1830s, anyway?

There’s another claim that “OK” was exploited in the 1840 General Election as the abbreviation of the nickname “Old Kinderhook” for Martin Van Buren. Van Buren was born in Kinderhook, New York so “Old Kinderhook” and “OK” became his campaign slogans. Not to be outdone, Van Buren’s rival, William Henry Harrison’s supporters cited “OK” to mean “Orful Kalamity” and “Out of Kash”. This seems to go along with the misspellings fad of the 1830s.

An earlier version of “OK” is “okeh”. Supposedly it was adopted by frontiersmen trading with the Choctaw people to whom okeh meant, “it is”. Legend has it that Andrew Jackson learned the word and introduced use of it more popularly by 1812. There are other claims that this usage was common in the late 1700s.

There are several more proposed etymologies of “OK”. Google the word to find them.

I get along well with people who have the habit of saying “OK”. That means practically everyone, because practically everyone, uses “OK” from time to time. I include my young friend, Jonathan, even though he has shortened his “OK” down to just “K”. I think saying “K” is a generational abbreviation. Many people his age say “K” in an off-hand sort of way.

“I think someone should explain to the child that it’s OK to make mistakes. That’s how we learn. When we compete, we make mistakes.”–Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 

There comes a time for most of us when, in general, we conclude that it’s OK to be the way we are. We accept that what makes us unique can be seen as a blessing and an asset. Once we’re OK with who we are, we are liberated from fear and silence. So, being authentically OK with oneself is a super power.

“If there’s any message to my work, it is ultimately that it’s OK to be different, that it’s good to be different, that we should question ourselves before we pass judgment on someone who looks different, behaves different, talks different, is a different color.”–Johnny Depp

One of the best ideas about “OK” is that it means acceptance. I’m OK with that.

Happy OK Day.

The Blue Jay of Happiness ponders pithy advice from rock star Gene Simmons. “Live and think like a poor man and you’ll always be OK.”

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
This entry was posted in cultural highlights, History, Meanderings and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to OK

  1. kaby says:

    Really interesting facts about that small word… 😃😃❤….

  2. I only recently learned that some younger people now say K instead of OK. I learned it from the “Zits” comic strip. See ya!

    Neil Scheinin.

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