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 • 7 454

  • Vox
    Vox  10 days ago +4080

    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

    • Ambri Miller
      Ambri Miller 2 hours ago

      Wait, so is it the same for the reverse today when so many memes use words but add only c's to make it stand out.
      Like attac, protec, bac. Or thicc, hecc. Are we reverting BACC to C?

    • Geoffrey Marchal
      Geoffrey Marchal 2 days 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 3 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 3 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!

  • Sena Bryer
    Sena Bryer Hour ago

    150 years from now people will make a video on why we say "F" at funerals

  • Jim Gerth
    Jim Gerth Hour ago

    HTTP/1.1 200 OK

  • faiz abbas
    faiz abbas 2 hours ago

    We do the same today

  • Girafy boi
    Girafy boi 2 hours ago

    The o.k meme can die. Its time to move on

  • K Bye
    K Bye 3 hours ago


  • Titan Pants
    Titan Pants 3 hours ago

    “OK”,now I understand.

  • 0ShiftingParadigms0
    0ShiftingParadigms0 3 hours ago


  • Adrian ASD
    Adrian ASD 3 hours ago

    Is that you? Armins long lost grandfather?

  • Gwyn Calavera
    Gwyn Calavera 3 hours ago

    My Chemical Romance at the beginning tho, "I'm Not Ok" is suuuuch a banger

  • William
    William 3 hours ago

    The story I have always heard was that Andrew Jackson, who couldn’t read used OK for short for all correct to approve different documents and the such.

  • Nathan Kevins
    Nathan Kevins 3 hours ago


  • LT Coyt
    LT Coyt 3 hours ago

    Is this video really oll korrect?

  • HK Kingdoms
    HK Kingdoms 4 hours ago

    Lands on mars “lol we did it”

  • Travis Williams
    Travis Williams 4 hours ago

    So, it was a meme

  • Kounter
    Kounter 5 hours ago +1

    This video was *_OKAY_*

  • Tinfoilpain
    Tinfoilpain 5 hours ago


  • Mary Akrivopoulou
    Mary Akrivopoulou 5 hours ago

    I'll never be able to say okay without overthinking again

    FAWEXX 5 hours ago

    wow. why do you even do these bad videos? i could have found this by googling. instead you create context where none is.

  • Garlic Breath
    Garlic Breath 5 hours ago

    So it was a miss spellled `All` that bacame `Oll` and the word `Korrect` also spelled wrongly with a K that became OK but really should have been AC. Mental.

  • kobe dickson
    kobe dickson 6 hours ago

    Honestly I thought of the kkk right away.

  • Madeleine F
    Madeleine F 6 hours ago

    ha lol got em

  • oncaphillis
    oncaphillis 6 hours ago

    "kraft" isn't an intentional miss-spell for adertisement. it is a german family name

  • Javier Rovegno Campos
    Javier Rovegno Campos 7 hours ago


  • Blazing Beast
    Blazing Beast 7 hours ago

    annie are you oll korrect

  • Connor Coutant
    Connor Coutant 7 hours ago

    I like this video, informative, interesting and straight to the point.

  • leeluv96
    leeluv96 7 hours ago

    So how did O.K. become Ok, and later become Okay?

  • SupahFans Streetwear
    SupahFans Streetwear 8 hours ago

    and the questioning/sarcastic Ooooohhh Kaaaayyy?

  • SupahFans Streetwear
    SupahFans Streetwear 8 hours ago

    "Mmmmmm Kaaaaayyyyy" - Dr. Mackey on South Park

  • Gurren Laggan
    Gurren Laggan 8 hours ago


  • Semih Sercan Gezer
    Semih Sercan Gezer 8 hours ago

    2:42 Letter "C" actually is not "..." but "_._." in Morse.. "..." means "S".

    • Semih Sercan Gezer
      Semih Sercan Gezer 8 hours ago

      Also, 2:43 "O" is equal to "_ _ _". ".." simply means "I/i".

  • Oblivious
    Oblivious 8 hours ago


  • Refnhaldy Kristian
    Refnhaldy Kristian 9 hours ago

    O.W. O.K.

  • Purity fbi
    Purity fbi 9 hours ago +1

    Ok= 0 killed= it's all fine

    There ya go

  • Charizard Garfild
    Charizard Garfild 10 hours ago

    I'm just waiting for the comment section to flood with okays and oks

  • Creative Ganger
    Creative Ganger 10 hours ago

    I heard it was a legend about a greek guy in America answered someone's question saying "ola kala" the American thought he should abbreviate it to ok

  • Steven Berisha
    Steven Berisha 10 hours ago +1

    I’m a .. -.-

  • Fisty Carrera
    Fisty Carrera 10 hours ago


  • bella vdb
    bella vdb 11 hours ago


  • hatedumb
    hatedumb 12 hours ago

    Makes a video about OK's origin
    End the video with "Alright, guys" instead of "OK". _facepalm_

    HD_CORE 12 hours ago

    *Mortal Kombat*

  • Jacob Staten
    Jacob Staten 12 hours ago

    This is what Vox is good at; trivia. They need to stay off guns and politics because they're consistently misinformed or trying to misinform.

  • white storm
    white storm 13 hours ago


  • iusactuyasfgviuawehf
    iusactuyasfgviuawehf 13 hours ago

    If a dead meme was the first thing said on the moon, when we land on mars someone better say "Do u kno de way home" to keep tradition going

  • zomgseriosuly
    zomgseriosuly 14 hours ago

    0:27 hi Radiohead!!!

  • Shaylah M.
    Shaylah M. 15 hours ago

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

  • Helena Vajić
    Helena Vajić 15 hours ago


  • Jac
    Jac 15 hours ago

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

  • Floyd Welch
    Floyd Welch 16 hours ago

    White power at 0:17

  • Shiv_McShankston
    Shiv_McShankston 16 hours ago +1

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

  • OmniMorsDominus
    OmniMorsDominus 17 hours ago


  • BrownieeeHD
    BrownieeeHD 17 hours ago

    Ok then

  • Ekky Pramana
    Ekky Pramana 17 hours ago

    I see MCR I press like

  • Aisha Delva
    Aisha Delva 17 hours ago


  • Aisha Delva
    Aisha Delva 17 hours ago


  • Dzulfiqar Bagas Tito
    Dzulfiqar Bagas Tito 17 hours ago

    We start with meme and will end with meme too

  • Aisha Delva
    Aisha Delva 18 hours ago

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

  • TRASEIJ Claudio
    TRASEIJ Claudio 18 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 20 hours ago


  • Ron W
    Ron W 21 hour 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 21 hour ago

    i guess it was the yeet of yesteryear.

  • Iamvox
    Iamvox 21 hour ago

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

  • Someguy •
    Someguy • 21 hour ago +1

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

    • J B
      J B 19 hours ago

      For sh*ts and giggles.

  • Mutantcy1992
    Mutantcy1992 21 hour 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 22 hours ago

    Hm. K.

  • Drumsgoon
    Drumsgoon 22 hours ago

    All correct

  • Z D
    Z D Day ago

    Scrooled down just to see comments about MCR

  • Markoos Guerrero

    This made Ok seem weird to say now

  • TheJezzi
    TheJezzi Day 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 Day ago


  • Soul King Brook
    Soul King Brook Day ago


  • Pocholo Severo
    Pocholo Severo Day ago


  • wikichris
    wikichris Day 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

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

  • M&Ms
    M&Ms Day ago


  • nicholas williams


  • Rated K
    Rated K Day ago


  • Unicorn Mcgeehee
    Unicorn Mcgeehee Day ago +1

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

  • Johannes Nilses
    Johannes Nilses Day ago


  • Ana Helene
    Ana Helene Day ago

    I was literally asking myself that question the other day

  • Kevin Hernandez
    Kevin Hernandez Day ago


  • Elevating Europe

    Shouldn’t we be saying AC instead of OK?

  • Avery Badnaem
    Avery Badnaem Day ago


  • Alan Fox
    Alan Fox Day 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 Day ago

    *OKRRRRRRRR* *tongue pop*

  • Mr. Ouija
    Mr. Ouija Day ago

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

    MOI KUN ASE Day 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