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.
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    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.
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Comments • 11 227

  • Vox
    Vox  10 months ago +7498

    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

    • Ion D-worth Productions
      Ion D-worth Productions 14 hours ago

      Ok, nice to know

    • TheUsername217
      TheUsername217 13 days ago


    • Breadking L gelato
      Breadking L gelato 20 days ago


    • Thanh Bui
      Thanh Bui 29 days ago

      Guy Austin language adapts and changes, maybe it was more satisfying to add ay to make ok sound more phonetically correct, which obviously got picked up.

    • Iasicg
      Iasicg Month ago

      Och aye sounds like the most logical origin as scottish and English people are literally like 2 blocks down the road from each other

  • Suciu Deea
    Suciu Deea 25 minutes ago


  • Wasuthorn Worachotmethee

    I freaked out when mcr came on

  • Dadang Sutarman
    Dadang Sutarman 3 hours ago

    OK word was viral without social media!.

  • Osman Aden
    Osman Aden 3 hours ago

    Some people write it like oKaY

  • We do Tricks
    We do Tricks 3 hours ago

    I was watching this video and an ad came on and the first word the guy said in the ad was ok lol

  • Earl John Marcadejas
    Earl John Marcadejas 3 hours ago


  • Mason S
    Mason S 3 hours ago

    I rarely or never use that word. I'm more of a ''Yup'' and nod person.

  • cha0s_dvl11
    cha0s_dvl11 4 hours ago

    To me, 'O' is feminine and 'K' is masculine; when I see a couple I'm like, "O-K"

  • a d
    a d 5 hours ago

    "Oll Wright is abbreviated as O.W."
    me: *tHe slAng iS lOngEr thAn tHe aCtUaL wOrd*

  • Sìr Híss ẞøī
    Sìr Híss ẞøī 6 hours ago

    *Why we say "OK"*

  • Skidadle Skidoodle
    Skidadle Skidoodle 8 hours ago +1

    Who else uses just the letter K now?
    Just me? K

  • Draw Clearly
    Draw Clearly 9 hours ago +1


  • Sarah Riedel
    Sarah Riedel 15 hours ago

    ...Mind blown.

  • Nicola R
    Nicola R 19 hours ago +1

    Kim Kardashians literal name screams attention then? O K

  • James Maarshall
    James Maarshall 21 hour ago


  • rafizi shahruz
    rafizi shahruz Day ago

    Ok! We know OK begun with Oll Korrect!
    How about K.O?

    Knock Out!

  • Dodo
    Dodo Day ago


  • Asim Giri
    Asim Giri Day ago

    OKAY 😉

  • Broke Forever
    Broke Forever Day ago


  • TeeEss
    TeeEss Day ago

    0:11 the middle poster is of a bollywood movie

  • Chanon Jantarax
    Chanon Jantarax Day ago


  • Leslie Alanis
    Leslie Alanis Day ago

    MCR caught my emo off guard

  • VIBE
    VIBE Day ago


  • Infinite
    Infinite Day ago


  • Noid
    Noid Day ago +1


  • TheAnonapersons
    TheAnonapersons Day ago

    What?!! O.K - Lil Jon

  • Honesty Poland
    Honesty Poland Day ago

    so its ok and not okay?

  • Jake Taylor
    Jake Taylor Day ago


  • the outsider
    the outsider Day ago

    See... memes are important

  • Peace
    Peace Day ago

    Shouldn't it be "AK"?

    DAAT GAMR Day ago


  • Stuey Griffith
    Stuey Griffith Day ago

    lies.... it caught on because America's latent racist leanings!!!!!

    in the late 1800s, 'OK' was used as a means of covertly signalling one's membership in the KU KLUD KLAN in seemingly POLITE Southern society. then it just caught on.

    You know what I'm talkin' about! OK?


  • Garrison Fox
    Garrison Fox Day ago


  • gaeilge homework

    Lol used to mean lots of love back in the day ok

  • Michael Earls
    Michael Earls 2 days ago


  • Shook
    Shook 2 days ago


  • Orsen Carte
    Orsen Carte 2 days ago

    In Britain U.S. is used to denote useless !

  • Zeb Shah
    Zeb Shah 2 days ago

    Old kinderhooks??

  • grigori yevimovich rasputin

    Sounds a lot like the German "alles klar", literally meaning "all clear" but means "affirmative" in use just like OK does. Maybe OK wasn't "oll correct", but instead "oll klear", as at that time German may have had a bigger influence.

  • Michael Davis
    Michael Davis 2 days ago


  • stuckinstuff 1
    stuckinstuff 1 2 days ago

    I was litterally wondering where o.k comes from this morning. USclip read my mind

  • vkguapodanny
    vkguapodanny 2 days ago


  • OZK00K
    OZK00K 2 days ago


  • Vossavic TL
    Vossavic TL 2 days ago


  • Zxzi
    Zxzi 2 days ago

    2:36 A sound of a dying hard drive

  • Bel giffle
    Bel giffle 2 days ago +3

    Alone Forever meme: i am the oldest meme.
    Oll Korrect: am i a joke to you

  • Bikal
    Bikal 2 days ago

    Now, "ok" has lost all meaning

  • Kinga Aisling
    Kinga Aisling 2 days ago

    4:26 It's Boyle:D

  • Adapple
    Adapple 3 days ago


  • Hannah Lou
    Hannah Lou 3 days ago

    I always thought it was a war reference, OK meaning 0 Killed

  • Kael'thas
    Kael'thas 3 days ago +1

    0:14 a man of culture, I see.

  • Luxury Inc
    Luxury Inc 3 days ago


  • ImThatGuy
    ImThatGuy 3 days ago

    4:10 *eyyy*

  • Xoie Veck
    Xoie Veck 3 days ago +1

    "The letter K is rare"
    *keeping up with the Kardashians*
    Kourt, khlo, kim, Kendal, kylie.

  • Xoie Veck
    Xoie Veck 3 days ago

    "Ok Google"

  • Erol Metecan Duren
    Erol Metecan Duren 3 days ago

    me: lets see what interesting things I can learn today in my USclip feed
    youtube: why we say OK

  • The Frustrated Gamer

    From okay to ok
    From ok to kk
    From kk to k
    k is at the verge of disappearing

  • Mumtahin Dipto
    Mumtahin Dipto 3 days ago +4

    "we're gonna storm the Area51"
    Guards: *_OK_*

  • ajit reddy
    ajit reddy 4 days ago

    No !!!! It’s not OK its “K”. 😂

  • Katrina Maybe
    Katrina Maybe 4 days ago

    I’ve heard the word ok way too much and now it sounds weird

  • Gian Exists
    Gian Exists 5 days ago

    I thought The "KY" ting standed for "Know You" (no u)

  • Anika AlR
    Anika AlR 5 days ago +2

    It sounds like it does comes from the Choctaw word .

  • unknown tuna
    unknown tuna 5 days ago


  • mobile YT
    mobile YT 5 days ago

    Types of OK okie okay or KO

  • Xinel
    Xinel 5 days ago

    Nuff said

  • American Pichu
    American Pichu 5 days ago +1

    2:45, wait, I thought “O” was - - -

  • its rewind time
    its rewind time 5 days ago


  • Angelique rules!
    Angelique rules! 5 days ago

    So why is there an okay? Why is there that spelling?

  • Severinus Ngali
    Severinus Ngali 5 days ago

    ok i got it

  • the morgendorffer files

    Now it sounds weird every time I hear it

  • Maria Lindell
    Maria Lindell 5 days ago +1

    In Finnish OK can mean the extreamly short version "Oletko kunnossa?/Olen kunnossa." Meaning Are you alright and the response I am alright. Be aware that the form I used just now was more on the formal ones, but there are way more versions of the same question and responses diffrentiating on where you were from and dialects and age group.

  • LeoSomeRandomBoi
    LeoSomeRandomBoi 5 days ago


  • Maniruzzaman Sikder
    Maniruzzaman Sikder 5 days ago

    Weird flex but OK

  • Kodiax
    Kodiax 5 days ago

    It stresses me when people spell it on not okay

  • fatszenji89
    fatszenji89 5 days ago

    Ok!!!! 👌

  • Skirt skirt Skrr
    Skirt skirt Skrr 5 days ago


  • Bang Obet
    Bang Obet 5 days ago


  • nithyananthan k
    nithyananthan k 5 days ago


  • Blue games
    Blue games 6 days ago

    Because it’s my signature

  • kalebishere
    kalebishere 6 days ago

    OW? KC.

  • SinZ
    SinZ 6 days ago

    OK was the first meme. Sorry kilroy.

  • SuperPolarBear
    SuperPolarBear 6 days ago


  • Eli
    Eli 6 days ago

    I dont say ok i say okay

  • sumit singh
    sumit singh 6 days ago


  • Jenna Wilmore
    Jenna Wilmore 6 days ago

    i’ll never be able to hear ‘ok’ normally again. thanks vox

  • Aya saad
    Aya saad 6 days ago

    0:06 hurt just a little bit just a little

  • Fewyouknewme be for
    Fewyouknewme be for 6 days ago

    all correct , except the spelling , the meaning , the time its suposed it went out ... its ok to be phoney in america these days

  • Fewyouknewme be for
    Fewyouknewme be for 6 days ago

    so OK means americans still cannot write good ??

  • Fewyouknewme be for
    Fewyouknewme be for 6 days ago

    All Correct is AC not OK , bur this is vox afterall...

  • Idk
    Idk 6 days ago

    What about "Okay?" 😂

  • I lost my rice cooker
    I lost my rice cooker 6 days ago +1


  • Nash
    Nash 6 days ago

    So what's the difference between okay and ok

  • Chris Plays 020509
    Chris Plays 020509 6 days ago


  • Fabulous Hat Lady
    Fabulous Hat Lady 6 days ago


  • Rainy Saturday
    Rainy Saturday 6 days ago +1

    This laugh is beautiful

  • El Gofree
    El Gofree 6 days ago +7

    You know, here in Mexico, in our very own millennial slang, in recent years we started using the letter C instead of K.... so, instead of OK we would write "OC" (not meaning ANYTHING at all regarding to the letters, just because the phonetics of OK read the same as OC if you only say the sound of it).
    A normal thing in the Mexican Spanish is using the word "Ah" before of those two letters to say "Ah, OK!" but with a more ironic pronunciation to shrug someone's arguments off... Millennials again took it and just discarded the h, the coma and the space between...

    and now everytime I see Alexandria Ocasio Cortes's abbreviation on a news note I think the news are just shrugging off someone!

    • Poopscipade
      Poopscipade 16 hours ago

      @Katarina Stojadinovic Nobody really cares about the accuracy of these labels. No one ever did. None of them mean anything. They're basically only used to further separate older people from young people.

    • Katarina Stojadinovic
      Katarina Stojadinovic Day ago

      You might be thinking of gen z instead of millennials. Millennials were born before 1997, current teens are all gen z

  • Redstripe921
    Redstripe921 6 days ago

    I'm gonne change my full name to Oll Korrect.