Why we say “OK”

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  • Published on 2018-09-12T11:59:35.000Z
  • How a cheesy joke from the 1830s became the most widely spoken word in the world. Subscribe to our channel! OK is thought to be the most widely recognized word on the planet. We use it to communicate with each other, as well as our technology. But it actually started out as a language fad in the 1830’s of abbreviating words incorrectly. Young intellectuals in Boston came up with several of these abbreviations, including “KC” for “knuff ced,” “OW” for “oll wright,” and KY for “know yuse.” But thanks to its appearance in Martin Van Buren’s 1840 presidential re-election campaign as the incumbents new nickname, Old Kinderhook, OK outlived its abbreviated comrades. Later, widespread use by early telegraph operators caused OK to go mainstream, and its original purpose as a neutral affirmative is still how we use it today. Vox.com is a news website that helps you cut through the noise and understand what's really driving the events in the headlines. Check out Watch our full video catalog: Follow Vox on Facebook: Or Twitter:

Comments • 7326

  • Vox
    Vox   2018-09-12T16:25:34.000Z

    Another popular false origin of OK comes from the American Civil War (1861-1865) which says that soldiers returning from battle would report \"0K\" (zero killed). And there\'s a few from around the world, too. Like the Greek \"όλα καλά (óla kalá) which means \"all good,\" the Scottish \"och aye,\" which means \"oh yes,\" and even a French-named seaport in Haiti, Aux Cayes. While these are all pretty interesting and might indicate why \"OK\" was so easily adapted into language worldwide, none of them can actually be traced in their influence the way \"oll korrect\" can. Neat. - Coleman

  • TxT Peer
    TxT Peer   2018-09-21T13:05:04.000Z

    Twitch.tv/txtpeer subcribe an follow me 🤗

  • permen kapas
    permen kapas   2018-09-21T12:10:23.000Z

    *iM nOt OkAaAaaAy*

  • Prasenjit Shukla
    Prasenjit Shukla   2018-09-21T12:07:56.000Z

    That\'s OK. But how it got transformed from OK to Okay, Oki, K... Social media invention. Great story @VOX

  • Nipah Auauau
    Nipah Auauau   2018-09-21T10:51:49.000Z

    Imagine if in the future \"doggo\" supplants the word \"dog\".

  • 光海
    光海   2018-09-21T10:23:08.000Z

    Memes create useful words, and now the EU is banning them...

  • 光海
    光海   2018-09-21T10:17:34.000Z

    Overkill?

  • Paolo Pabalinas
    Paolo Pabalinas   2018-09-21T09:59:54.000Z

    Oh OK

  • Siris Poudel
    Siris Poudel   2018-09-21T08:53:36.000Z

    KKK

  • NeATaNDtURdy
    NeATaNDtURdy   2018-09-21T08:51:55.000Z

    Oki

  • JoeMG
    JoeMG   2018-09-21T08:47:32.000Z

    It\'s 2 am, and I have to go to work at 5 am. And here I am not getting sleep learning about the history of the word \"ok...\"

  • 2can sam
    2can sam   2018-09-21T08:28:58.000Z

    Okay then

  • SeTh lYonS
    SeTh lYonS   2018-09-21T08:10:38.000Z

    *might*

  • robert muis
    robert muis   2018-09-21T07:25:02.000Z

    Stop door transfer fourth routine properly charge today sharp million

  • Thekingofwatching
    Thekingofwatching   2018-09-21T05:59:06.000Z

    Alright, I don’t tend to use such an abbreviated word. I prefer saying as many things as possible if I’m all right.

  • Alex Chu
    Alex Chu   2018-09-21T04:14:17.000Z

    Good video!

  • Yaye
    Yaye   2018-09-21T03:50:45.000Z

    Ok cuck.

  • Lil Swiss Role
    Lil Swiss Role   2018-09-21T03:25:10.000Z

    now i’m gonna be noticing “ok” everywhere

  • Edward J. Cunningham
    Edward J. Cunningham   2018-09-21T03:23:28.000Z

    One thing that this video did not explain---but I wish it did----was how much the word \"OK\" is used in non-English languages, and how it spread beyond English.

  • Syazwan Dzulkifli
    Syazwan Dzulkifli   2018-09-21T02:10:09.000Z

    Is...is that Charles Boyle @ 4:26?!

  • Remember My Hug
    Remember My Hug   2018-09-21T02:08:33.000Z

    What about \"okay\"?

  • Jerry The Fisherman
    Jerry The Fisherman   2018-09-21T01:00:49.000Z

    Ok

  • It's Hard To Choose A Username
    It's Hard To Choose A Username   2018-09-20T23:57:55.000Z

    O K A Y

  • GrungeRockGod
    GrungeRockGod   2018-09-20T23:52:21.000Z

    orphan konnspiracy LOL got eem

  • deadweight
    deadweight   2018-09-20T22:33:26.000Z

    Ok

  • deadweight
    deadweight   2018-09-20T22:33:15.000Z

    Ok

  • deadweight
    deadweight   2018-09-20T22:32:43.000Z

    Ok

  • Jess Gent
    Jess Gent   2018-09-20T22:11:45.000Z

    Anyone always spell it as okay?

  • ansaree97
    ansaree97   2018-09-20T21:38:44.000Z

    OW OW OW

  • ansaree97
    ansaree97   2018-09-20T21:38:05.000Z

    Why are the top two comments the same

  • Mauricio Vazquez
    Mauricio Vazquez   2018-09-20T21:37:15.000Z

    Yeah Cops Alway say Ok.Ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok ok. I understand ok ok ok. You have the right to remain silent bla bla bla. Ok

  • Odin angie
    Odin angie   2018-09-20T21:14:01.000Z

    this video is kool

  • WeMeanDaBiz
    WeMeanDaBiz   2018-09-20T21:01:27.000Z

    Lil John 😂😂💀💀💀 I was not expecting that

  • extrafreshhh
    extrafreshhh   2018-09-20T20:56:46.000Z

    Findle

  • Jakob Garcia
    Jakob Garcia   2018-09-20T20:48:57.000Z

    Ok

  • Charly Rogers
    Charly Rogers   2018-09-20T20:48:15.000Z

    Can you make a video on, Why we say \"like\"

  • Tom DeLonge Fucks My Ass
    Tom DeLonge Fucks My Ass   2018-09-20T20:46:07.000Z

    \"Oh! Kay!\" -Will Smith

  • Drew Harkson
    Drew Harkson   2018-09-20T20:44:31.000Z

    Well okay then

  • ComicSavagery
    ComicSavagery   2018-09-20T20:35:55.000Z

    This means i dont need to feel bad about finding misspelled sentences hilarious

  • Oleknuso
    Oleknuso   2018-09-20T20:02:12.000Z

    My initials are OK

  • Kevin Messer
    Kevin Messer   2018-09-20T19:58:59.000Z

    Ok Google

  • Chuy Gonzalez
    Chuy Gonzalez   2018-09-20T19:55:36.000Z

    *\"Ok Liberal\"*

  • Jacques Long
    Jacques Long   2018-09-20T18:45:08.000Z

    i never knew i wanted to know about this but im not upset about it

  • Anônima
    Anônima   2018-09-20T18:25:39.000Z

    0k

  • Pratham Bhatia
    Pratham Bhatia   2018-09-20T18:23:36.000Z

    OK Jaanu Dheere dheere zara gam dena

  • Kayla LK
    Kayla LK   2018-09-20T17:48:23.000Z

    4:26 BOYLE!!

  • blackhawk0606
    blackhawk0606   2018-09-20T17:10:29.000Z

    2:46 , isn\'t - - - the morse code for the letter O ?

  • meloD30
    meloD30   2018-09-20T16:40:14.000Z

    This is just too good to be true. Hmmm.... it\'s not April Fools...

  • Porjay
    Porjay   2018-09-20T16:38:05.000Z

    NUFF SED IS GONE!!!

  • iamstrobe
    iamstrobe   2018-09-20T16:37:59.000Z

    ok

  • Crystle-Marie Loomos
    Crystle-Marie Loomos   2018-09-20T16:18:38.000Z

    So OK was the Nation\'s first meme?

  • Mad Pyer
    Mad Pyer   2018-09-20T15:47:38.000Z

    Basically it\'s a legendary meme that became so powerful it became part of the human language.

  • rikke oeberg smith
    rikke oeberg smith   2018-09-20T15:42:46.000Z

    k

  • Sharp Shooter
    Sharp Shooter   2018-09-20T15:37:26.000Z

    *LOL*

  • Sharp Shooter
    Sharp Shooter   2018-09-20T15:32:28.000Z

    Did u read my mind, Vox? I was just thinking about it a few days back!

  • Cory Canuel
    Cory Canuel   2018-09-20T15:26:45.000Z

    Hot for words did it better

  • [AR] Xohndash
    [AR] Xohndash   2018-09-20T15:19:59.000Z

    This video is Oll Korrect

  • Jester Jenkins
    Jester Jenkins   2018-09-20T15:16:45.000Z

    K.

  • hardassteel
    hardassteel   2018-09-20T14:25:21.000Z

    Okay

  • Zo n
    Zo n   2018-09-20T14:06:12.000Z

    Yall forgot Kanye west that part ok ok ok ok ok OKAY on the intro

  • Matthew A. Gilbert
    Matthew A. Gilbert   2018-09-20T14:01:32.000Z

    So, thank a Masshole if everything is OK with you?

  • Varun Govind
    Varun Govind   2018-09-20T13:50:16.000Z

    OK

  • XXxxsamuelxx
    XXxxsamuelxx   2018-09-20T13:40:45.000Z

    ok

  • Coyce
    Coyce   2018-09-20T13:11:28.000Z

    Hm. I always thought it had to do with an older war in which human life was regarded as a resource you spend to win battles. After the battle was over the fallen were counted and if your side had no deaths the message \"0 killed\" was given out or 0K short which then eventually became O.K. No clue where I got that from but your explanation seems to date further back since it\'s unlikely to have no losses in battle before modern military encounters

  • Grizz Cmt
    Grizz Cmt   2018-09-20T13:01:29.000Z

    I just say K

  • SCG Niagara
    SCG Niagara   2018-09-20T12:19:42.000Z

    So around the early 1800’s some young, intelligent Bostonians (or as some are calling them, memelords) created this well-known word? Ok, let\'s hear it...

  • Jehova's Abettor
    Jehova's Abettor   2018-09-20T11:46:58.000Z

    Acknowledged

  • KostasSiderisBarista
    KostasSiderisBarista   2018-09-20T11:41:16.000Z

    ΟΛΑ ΚΑΛΑ!!!! Everything Good in Greek. Greek port workers in NY, painted the initials of \"Ολα Καλά\" on the walls, when they finished their shift.

  • kieghacat
    kieghacat   2018-09-20T11:31:26.000Z

    This has just changed the whole meaning of \"Are you OK? Day\" that we had recently....

  • Sort Me Out
    Sort Me Out   2018-09-20T11:29:14.000Z

    i prefer K rather than OK

  • scuttle06
    scuttle06   2018-09-20T11:17:12.000Z

    Ness

  • Aimee Mena
    Aimee Mena   2018-09-20T11:03:08.000Z

    So now I know okay is incorrect, my scrabble better accept ok from now on.

  • Smurf
    Smurf   2018-09-20T10:10:37.000Z

    0 kills

  • Blue Winter
    Blue Winter   2018-09-20T09:55:54.000Z

    I wonder how many of our modern abbreviations would survive to the next century? LOL, PLZ, THX, FYI, FWIW, TTYL, GN, JK, BRB, ASAP, ppl, cz

  • chongjunxiang3002
    chongjunxiang3002   2018-09-20T09:43:58.000Z

    S U K K my D I K K

  • chongjunxiang3002
    chongjunxiang3002   2018-09-20T09:40:19.000Z

    500 years later, VOX publish a video about what is lol.

  • Cori Co
    Cori Co   2018-09-20T09:34:45.000Z

    wH- mcr? I now approve of this video

  • Jman Rip
    Jman Rip   2018-09-20T09:14:25.000Z

    Okay

  • Ярослав Курганский
    Ярослав Курганский   2018-09-20T08:00:53.000Z

    Knuff Ced

  • Window Wiper Guy
    Window Wiper Guy   2018-09-20T07:55:37.000Z

    ok

  • ItzRally7
    ItzRally7   2018-09-20T07:54:59.000Z

    Potassium is lucky

  • Shahin Tajeri
    Shahin Tajeri   2018-09-20T06:58:12.000Z

    00:27 love that album which is the reason that i clicked on this video XD

  • T Ig
    T Ig   2018-09-20T06:39:22.000Z

    So...it\'s chatspeak?🤔 And a meme...?

  • God //
    God //   2018-09-20T05:58:10.000Z

    I never always said ok in my life. Only AR!

  • Gta Comedy skits YouTube
    Gta Comedy skits YouTube   2018-09-20T05:58:09.000Z

    Okay

  • Nigga I’m high af
    Nigga I’m high af   2018-09-20T05:51:21.000Z

    Ok

  • beefcakepantiehoes
    beefcakepantiehoes   2018-09-20T05:42:15.000Z

    Thank you 1830’s Bostonian intellectual memelordes. We’re oll OK now bekause of you.

  • H -Arts
    H -Arts   2018-09-20T05:33:54.000Z

    Ok

  • dolofonos
    dolofonos   2018-09-20T05:12:44.000Z

    This creates an interesting etymological question. I don\'t think it\'s invalid to acknowledge converging origins any more than to acknowledge a mother\'s contribution to the genetics of a paternal lineage. Primary origin is not sole origin, and indeed may not be the most important (like saying the Chinese invented space travel merely because of primitive advancements in rocketry). A word like _troll,_ for example, shouldn\'t be denied as made receptive by virtue of the word\'s mythological nature, despite a very probable piscatorial origin. All contributions, even when seemingly erroneous, are clearly important to a word\'s history.

  • Ghofar Lathif
    Ghofar Lathif   2018-09-20T04:55:13.000Z

    meanwhile indonesian people are using “oce”

  • Gino Tuano
    Gino Tuano   2018-09-20T04:33:10.000Z

    take a shot everytime you hear the \"OK\"

  • Milk Man
    Milk Man   2018-09-20T04:16:38.000Z

    Nice vid, well done. I love it. Nice job man.

  • I_Put_Toast_On_My_Butter
    I_Put_Toast_On_My_Butter   2018-09-20T04:08:03.000Z

    Okay

  • Ayoub Igmir
    Ayoub Igmir   2018-09-20T04:07:35.000Z

    ok.

  • Can we get 1 subscriber without videos?
    Can we get 1 subscriber without videos?   2018-09-20T04:05:08.000Z

    Only the OGs will remember the OK meme

  • Ephreim Harris Ebens AKA Freddy
    Ephreim Harris Ebens AKA Freddy   2018-09-20T03:23:47.000Z

    When humans landed on the moon? Seriously? 🤦🏻‍♂️

  • RandomOof .-.
    RandomOof .-.   2018-09-20T03:05:44.000Z

    I thought \"ok\" was spelled \"okay\"

  • Socknetea
    Socknetea   2018-09-20T02:32:05.000Z

    So ok is basically a historic meme

  • Ash Westbrook
    Ash Westbrook   2018-09-20T02:17:42.000Z

    I thought it was just a shorter version of \"Okay\", but ok.

  • Nyc vacuum Kidd
    Nyc vacuum Kidd   2018-09-20T02:16:06.000Z

    *OKEY DOKEY*