Word of the day: OK

It’s one of there most commonly-used words in the English language – but what is the origin of OK? There are lots of incorrect explanations, but one can find the true history in the book “The Story Of English In 100 Words” [my review here].

The term first appeared in 1839 in a Boston newspaper. There was a vogue for inventing humorous abbreviations using initial letters. One of these was oll korrect. a comedic adaptation of the words all correct. All the other abbreviations used in the newspaper disappeared. Why not this one?

Well, in the following year 1840, it came to be associated with with a totally different use – as a slogan during the US presidential election of that year. It was the shortened form of Old Kinderhook, the nickname of President Martin van Buren – Kinderhook being the name of his hometown in New York State. He lost the election.

So now you know …

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