Why we say “OK”

  • Published on Sep 12, 2018
  • How a cheesy joke from the 1830s became the most widely spoken word in the world.
    Subscribe to our channel! goo.gl/0bsAjO
    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 www.vox.com.
    Watch our full video catalog: goo.gl/IZONyE
    Follow Vox on Facebook: goo.gl/U2g06o
    Or Twitter: goo.gl/XFrZ5H

Comments • 7 408

  • Vox
    Vox  9 days ago +4026

    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

    • Geoffrey Marchal
      Geoffrey Marchal Day ago

      False. O.K. from "zero kill" can be trace from the civil war document. And it is actually hard to believe that a joke "oll Korrect" could be wildly supported and spread around USA. Neat!

    • greyztone
      greyztone 2 days ago

      And the origin of "there's a few"? Come on Vox, we're talking about language here!

    • LulitaInPita
      LulitaInPita 2 days ago

      I was told it originated from WWII, not the American Civil War, but I'm glad I wasn't the only one who believed that xD

    • Mikrofonlar Kralarına Cevaplar
      Mikrofonlar Kralarına Cevaplar 2 days ago

      Do you know a few languages (being held in my text) to consider the fact?
      Do you know historical flow of languages along with geography and by their nature of getting altered in time in terms of articulation and pronounciation courses?
      Do yo know (1) phonology and (2) audiology along with (3) human physiology and (4) natural physics terms?
      I do know three languages plus the four technical items sufficient for the subject I am handling.. really.. considerably per+fect-ly!
      Weird is what you say (and do) whithout basis for any proofing grounds (especially asby with such a short way of expressing your judgement after such the length and detail and richness my texts presented) with no argumentation at all!

    • Mikrofonlar Kralarına Cevaplar
      Mikrofonlar Kralarına Cevaplar 3 days ago

      Please why and how?
      What is your linguistic and historical merit?

  • zomgseriosuly
    zomgseriosuly 7 hours ago

    0:27 hi Radiohead!!!

  • Shaylah M.
    Shaylah M. 7 hours ago

    Answering questions I've always had. lol love this!!

  • Helena Vajić
    Helena Vajić 7 hours ago


  • Jac
    Jac 8 hours ago

    So memes are nothing new, just a different form of old visual communication methods

  • Floyd Welch
    Floyd Welch 8 hours ago

    White power at 0:17

  • Shiv_McShankston
    Shiv_McShankston 9 hours ago +1

    All of these hand signs are triggering me and you should feel bad

  • OmniMorsDominus
    OmniMorsDominus 10 hours ago


  • BrownieeeHD
    BrownieeeHD 10 hours ago

    Ok then

  • Ekky Pramana
    Ekky Pramana 10 hours ago

    I see MCR I press like

  • Aisha Delva
    Aisha Delva 10 hours ago


  • Aisha Delva
    Aisha Delva 10 hours ago


  • Dzulfiqar Bagas Tito
    Dzulfiqar Bagas Tito 10 hours ago

    We start with meme and will end with meme too

  • Aisha Delva
    Aisha Delva 10 hours ago

    I thought it was just a shortening of "okie dokie"

  • TRASEIJ Claudio
    TRASEIJ Claudio 10 hours ago

    Wtf.... Almost every time he says ok my Google assistant poops out "what can I help you with?" Jesus Christ

  • Draveous 11:11 Sanctified tv

    And "OK" in Hollywood now means 666... ie, fratuer Lucas.. Illuminati.. Oll or Ull, this is also the Norse god of Hunting, Snowshoes & the Bow. 🤔

  • Eggs
    Eggs 12 hours ago


  • Ron W
    Ron W 13 hours ago

    Sorry to break your balloon, but the first published instance of OK is in an American novel published in 1818. I don't remember the name of the novel but I read it in early US literature at University in the mid 60s.

  • OhLookAWoodenSheep
    OhLookAWoodenSheep 13 hours ago

    i guess it was the yeet of yesteryear.

  • Iamvox
    Iamvox 14 hours ago

    likely the only historically correct, and useful Vox video. nice.

  • Someguy •
    Someguy • 14 hours ago +1

    *Ok* but why did they spell “all” “oll”?

    • J B
      J B 11 hours ago

      For sh*ts and giggles.

  • Mutantcy1992
    Mutantcy1992 14 hours ago

    I had been considering making a video on how "okay" is used today in communication, the differences between "okay" "ok" and "k" and things like that. Now I'm wondering if this Vox video would be a good thing for that or if it would make me look like a copycat.

  • Shawn Moran
    Shawn Moran 14 hours ago

    Hm. K.

  • Drumsgoon
    Drumsgoon 15 hours ago

    All correct

  • Z D
    Z D 16 hours ago

    Scrooled down just to see comments about MCR

  • Markoos Guerrero
    Markoos Guerrero 16 hours ago

    This made Ok seem weird to say now

  • TheJezzi
    TheJezzi 17 hours ago

    In one of your examples for todays use of the letter 'k' for catching your attention, you made a mistake. The example says 'KRAFT' instead of 'CRAFT'. Actually this is spelled just right. Kraft is a german company and the name originated from the name of the family that found the company. 'Kraft' is even a german word meaning power or force.
    So it's wether not intented to catch your intention or just a coincidence and the company is lucky :D

  • Ok
    Ok 18 hours ago


  • Soul King Brook
    Soul King Brook 18 hours ago


  • Pocholo Severo
    Pocholo Severo 18 hours ago


  • wikichris
    wikichris 19 hours ago

    OK is even now used in Spain Spanish very regularly. Not sure about other languages but it surprised me how much they use it.

  • Vincent Pellegrini
    Vincent Pellegrini 19 hours ago

    so was Van Buren the very first /r/FellowKids?

  • M&Ms
    M&Ms 19 hours ago


  • nicholas williams
    nicholas williams 19 hours ago


  • Rated K
    Rated K 19 hours ago


  • Unicorn Mcgeehee
    Unicorn Mcgeehee 20 hours ago +1

    In 150 years people are going to be disecting why everyone says yeet

  • Johannes Nilses
    Johannes Nilses 21 hour ago


  • Ana Helene
    Ana Helene 21 hour ago

    I was literally asking myself that question the other day

  • Kevin Hernandez
    Kevin Hernandez 22 hours ago


  • Elevating Europe
    Elevating Europe 22 hours ago

    Shouldn’t we be saying AC instead of OK?

  • Avery Badnaem
    Avery Badnaem 22 hours ago


  • Alan Fox
    Alan Fox 22 hours ago

    Okay is even part of the German language. I thought okay came from the OK corral and shooting in the wild west.

  • Ali Reyes
    Ali Reyes 23 hours ago

    *OKRRRRRRRR* *tongue pop*

  • Mr. Ouija
    Mr. Ouija 23 hours ago

    Did the Ku Klux Klan have the "K" craze?

    MOI KUN ASE 23 hours ago


  • TxT Peer
    TxT Peer Day ago

    Twitch.tv/txtpeer subcribe an follow me 🤗

  • permen kapas
    permen kapas Day ago

    *iM nOt OkAaAaaAy*

  • Prasenjit Shukla

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

  • Nipah Auauau
    Nipah Auauau Day ago

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

  • 光海
    光海 Day ago

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

  • 光海
    光海 Day ago


  • Paolo Pabalinas
    Paolo Pabalinas Day ago

    Oh OK

  • Siris Poudel
    Siris Poudel Day ago


  • NeATaNDtURdy
    NeATaNDtURdy Day ago


  • JoeMG
    JoeMG Day ago

    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 Day ago

    Okay then

  • SeTh lYonS
    SeTh lYonS Day ago


  • robert muis
    robert muis Day ago

    Stop door transfer fourth routine properly charge today sharp million

  • Thekingofwatching

    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 Day ago

    Good video!

  • Yaye
    Yaye Day ago +1

    Ok cuck.

  • Lil Swiss Role
    Lil Swiss Role Day ago

    now i’m gonna be noticing “ok” everywhere

  • Edward J. Cunningham

    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.

  • SecondSein
    SecondSein Day ago

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

  • Remember My Hug
    Remember My Hug Day ago

    What about "okay"?

  • Jerry The Fisherman


  • GrungeRockGod
    GrungeRockGod Day ago +1

    orphan konnspiracy LOL got eem

  • deadweight
    deadweight Day ago


  • deadweight
    deadweight Day ago


  • deadweight
    deadweight Day ago


  • Jess Gent
    Jess Gent Day ago

    Anyone always spell it as okay?

  • ansaree97
    ansaree97 Day ago +1

    OW OW OW

  • ansaree97
    ansaree97 Day ago +1

    Why are the top two comments the same

  • Mauricio Vazquez

    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 Day ago

    this video is kool

  • WeMeanDaBiz
    WeMeanDaBiz Day ago

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

  • extrafreshhh
    extrafreshhh Day ago


  • Jakob Garcia
    Jakob Garcia Day ago


  • Charly Rogers
    Charly Rogers Day ago

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

  • Tom DeLonge Fucks My Ass

    "Oh! Kay!"
    -Will Smith

  • Drew Harkson
    Drew Harkson Day ago +1

    Well okay then

  • ComicSavagery
    ComicSavagery Day ago

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

  • Oleknuso
    Oleknuso Day ago

    My initials are OK

  • Kevin Messer
    Kevin Messer Day ago

    Ok Google

  • Chuy Gonzalez
    Chuy Gonzalez Day ago

    *"Ok Liberal"*

  • Jacques Long
    Jacques Long Day ago

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

  • Anônima
    Anônima Day ago


  • Pratham Bhatia
    Pratham Bhatia Day ago

    OK Jaanu
    Dheere dheere zara gam dena

  • Kayla LK
    Kayla LK Day ago

    4:26 BOYLE!!

  • blackhawk0606
    blackhawk0606 Day ago

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

  • meloD30
    meloD30 Day ago

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

  • Porjay
    Porjay Day ago


  • iamstrobe
    iamstrobe Day ago


  • Crystle-Marie Loomos

    So OK was the Nation's first meme?

  • Mad Pyer
    Mad Pyer Day ago

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

  • Sharp Shooter
    Sharp Shooter Day ago


  • Sharp Shooter
    Sharp Shooter Day ago

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