, Oh Kay
is a colloquial
English word denoting approval, assent, or acknowledgment that has
been a loanword
from English for many other
languages. As an adjective
'adequate', 'acceptable' ("this is okay to send out"), often in
contrast to 'good' ("the food was okay"); it also functions as an
in this sense. As an interjection
, it can denote compliance ("Okay,
I will do that"), agreement ("Okay, that's good"), a wish to defuse
a situation or calm someone ("It's okay, it's not that bad"). As a
not modify any other particular word, but rather reinforces the
general point being made, particularly if that point is being
called into question. And so, for example, a response to “So the
accident kept him from going to the reunion?” might be “Oh, he went
to it okay, but he had bruised ribs and his car was a wreck.” In
this case “okay” does not modify him or his going anywhere; it is a
particle emphasizing the point that is being questioned. As a
'assent'; ("The boss okayed the purchase").The origins of 'okay'
are not known with certainty, and have been the subject of much
discussion over the years.
Earliest documented examples
earliest claimed usage of okay is a 1790 court record from
County, Tennessee, discovered in 1859 by a Tennessee historian named Albigence Waldo Putnam, in which
Andrew Jackson apparently
- "proved a bill of sale from Hugh McGary to Gasper Mansker, for
a Negro man, which was O.K."
However, the record is hand-written rather than printed, and
1860 biography of
Jackson suggested that it is really a poorly written O.R., which
was the abbreviation used for "Ordered Recorded". Woodford Heflin,
the staff writer in charge of the "O.K." entry of the
Dictionary of American English
did a photographic analysis
in 1941 which also supports the O.R. interpretation of the
What is widely regarded as the earliest known example of the modern
"ok" being set down on paper is a quintessential "we arrived OK"
notation in the hand-written diary of William Richardson going from
Boston to New Orleans in 1815, about a month after the Battle of
New Orleans. One entry says "we traveled on to N. York where we
arrived all well, at 7 P.M." By most reckonings a later similar
entry uses "ok" in place of "all well": "Arrived at Princeton, a
handsome little village, 15 miles from N Brunswick, ok & at
Trenton, where we dined at 1 P.M."
The original "ok &" was edited to
read "o.k. and" in the print publication and that rendering was
widely accepted at the time. H.L. Mencken considered it "very clear
that 'o. k.' is actually in the manuscript." The editor of
noted that this use of "o.k." was "likely
to become a locus classicus
of the expression." H.L.
Mencken later recanted his endorsement of the expression in favor
on one espoused by those who say that "O.K." was used no earlier
than 1839. Mencken said of the diary entry "This o k
really therefore the first two letters of a
Allen Walker Read
earliest known use of O.K.
in print as 1839, in the March
23 edition of the Boston Morning
(an American newspaper). The announcement of a trip
by the Anti-Bell-Ringing Society (a "frolicsome group" according to
Read) received attention from the Boston papers. Charles Gordon
Greene wrote about the event using the line that is widely regarded
as the first instance of this strain of okay
- The above is from the Providence Journal, the editor of
which is a little too quick on the trigger, on this occasion. We
said not a word about our deputation passing "through the city" of
Providence.—We said our brethren were going to New York in the
Richmond, and they did go, as per Post of Thursday. The "Chairman
of the Committee on Charity Lecture Bells", is one of the
deputation, and perhaps if he should return to Boston, via
Providence, he of the Journal, and his train-band, would
have his "contribution box," et ceteras, o.k.—all
correct—and cause the corks to fly, like sparks,
This apparently resulted from a fad for comical abbreviations that
flourished in the late 1830s and 1840s. The abbreviation in this
case is from the misspelled "oll korrect."
Read gives a number of subsequent appearances in print: seven were
variations on "all correct" such as "oll korrect" or "ole kurreck";
five appeared with no accompanying explanation, suggesting that the
word was expected to be well-known to readers and possibly in
common colloquial use at the time.
A year later, supporters of the American Democratic political party
claimed during the 1840 United States
that it stood for "Old Kinderhook".
"Kinderhook" was a nickname for a Democratic
presidential candidate, Martin Van
Buren, a native of Kinderhook, NY.
"'Vote for OK' was snappier than using his
Dutch name." In response, Whig
, in the sense of "Oll Korrect", to Andrew Jackson
's bad spelling.
The country-wide publicity surrounding the election appears to have
been a critical event in okay'
s history, widely and
suddenly popularizing it across the United States.
James Pyle, inventor of "Pyle's Pearline" purchased by Procter
& Gamble in 1914 and renamed "Ivory Snow", placed an ad in the
New York Times
, October 23, 1862 which refers to James
Pyle's O.K. Soap. The New York Times
obituary of James
Pyle dated January 21, 1900 says "Brought O.K. Into Popularity".
The obituary states "He was the first to utilize in advertisements
the letters OK in their business significance of all correct. He
had read the version of the origin of the use of these letters by
Stonewall Jackson as an endorsement and was struck by their
catchiness. By his extensive employment of them he probably did
more than any other person to raise them to the dignity of a
popular term and an established business institution."
However, and importantly for one candidate etymology, earlier
documented examples exist of African slaves
in America using phonetically identical or strikingly similar words
in a similar sense to okay
. (See Wolof: waw-kay
Various etymologies have been proposed for okay
, but none
has been unanimously agreed upon. Most are generally regarded to be
unlikely or anachronistic.
There are five proposed etymologies which have received material
academic support since the 1960s. They are:
- Greek words "Ola Kala" meaning
"everything's good" or "all good" used by Greek railroad workers in
the United States. It is possible that Greek sailors used Ola Kala
in American ports. It is also said that "O.K." was written on the
ships or other places to show that the ships are ready.
- Initials of the "comically misspelled" oll
- Initials of "Old Kinderhook"
- Choctaw word okeh
- Wolof and Bantu word waw-kay or the Mande (aka "Mandinke" or "Mandingo") phrase
The "comically misspelled" one has been extensively discussed by
Allen Walker Read
purpose of those discussions was to promote "Old Kinderhook"; the
last two differ materially from other candidates in that they:
- Have widespread verifiable pre-existing documented usage,
- Have verifiable geographic overlaps with okay's first
- Have equivalent meanings,
- Do not fit over-neatly into contemporaneous or subsequent
political or cultural circumstances, and
- Are remarkably similar in pronunciation to okay
(having due regard to the danger of false coincidence, which is
endemic to colloquial etymology)
This is historically the most interesting etymology, based on
Read's extensive discussion of it, and it became widely known
following his landmark publications in 1963-1964.
Allen Walker Read
, revisiting and
refuting his own work of 20 years earlier, contributed a major
survey of the early history of okay
in a series of six
articles in the journal American Speech
in 1963 and 1964.
He tracked the spread and evolution of the word in American
newspapers and other written documents, and later the rest of the
world. He also documented controversy surrounding okay
the history of its folk
, both of which are intertwined with the history of
the word itself.
A key observation is that, at the time of its first appearance in
print, a broader fad
existed in the United
States of "comical misspellings" and of forming and employing
acronyms and initialisms. These were apparently based on direct
phonetic representation of (some) people's colloquial speech
patterns. Examples at the time included K.Y. for "know yuse" and
N.C. for "'nuff ced".
- "The abbreviation fad began in Boston in the summer of 1838 ...
OFM, "our first men," and used expressions like NG, "no go," GT,
"gone to Texas," and SP, "small potatoes." Many of the abbreviated
expressions were exaggerated misspellings, a stock in trade of the
humorists of the day. One predecessor of okay was OW, "oll wright,"
and there was also KY, "know yuse," KG, "know go," and NS, "nuff
The general fad may have existed in spoken or informal written U.S.
English for a decade or more before its appearance in newspapers.
s original presentation as "all correct" was later
varied with spellings such as "Oll Korrect" or even "Ole Kurreck".
Deliberate word play was associated with the acronym fad and was a
yet broader contemporary American fad.
The chief strength of this etymology is its clear written
A problem with this etymology is the implication that common usage
was driven by the written appearance of a geographically and
socially isolated slang term that was alien to the rest of the
country. While appearing in written form often spreads and expands
the usage of colloquial terms, it is rare for a single instance of
written speech to make a term colloquial. The relatively slow
take-up of the term by other English-speaking countries illustrates
Another problem with this etymology is that the "comical
misspellings" were phonetic. "Oll Korrect" (sometimes "orl
korrect") clearly suggests that what is being comically misspelled
was heard from someone speaking with a non-standard accent, either
deliberately or habitually. The semantic similarity between "oll
korrect" and the German (Pennsylvanian Dutch
) "alles in Ordnung"
("everything is in order/all is correct") should be noted. However,
at that time this accent was not widespread in the United States
outside the north-east, which would have tended to reduce the rate
of wider adoption of the now-arbitrary slang.
Read's series of papers offered an interesting and memorable
discussion of "Oll Korrect", but the purpose of those papers was to
support his New York City based "Old Kinderhook" etymology
referring to Martin Van Buren's residence in Kinderhook, New York.
Read had formulated that etymology about twenty years earlier, but
it had come under fire.
Van Buren was not by any means known as "Old Kinderhook" in general
usage, and Read offered only two instances of the use of "O.K."
that mentioned "Old Kinderhook." One was an 1840 ad for a breast
pin celebrating Andrew Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans. The
other was a facetious use as part of a gag to take a swipe at the
Whigs; indeed, to take the use of the abbreviations in that gag
seriously is to miss the whole point. Many linguists, including the
editors of The Dictionary of American English
Oxford English Dictionary
found these uses no more
significant than any of other uses of "O.K." over the previous year
and a half. They considered its use in the lapel pin ad an
"afterthought" dropped into an ad that was essentially a
celebration of Jackson and the frontier associations of the
Read countered, however, that the ad made it evident "that the
expression was strange and new at that time", that the earlier uses
of "O.K." in Boston, Philadelphia, Providence, New Orleans, New
York, etc. – including the humorous uses of "Oll Korrect" – were
"not the real thing, but anticipative of the real thing." He said
that, regardless of the surface meaning of those earlier uses,
their true, although secret and cabalist reference, was to Van
Buren's residence, and that "Old Kinderhook" established the
trajectory of "O.K." as it "rocketed across the American linguistic
Read's etymology gained immediate acceptance.
It was and is offered without reservation in dictionaries. The 1968
edition of Webster's Dictionary, for example, offered a gross
misrepresentation of the documented early uses of the expression
for months before it was ever used in New York:"first used in name
of the Democratic O.K.
club (earliest recorded meeting
March 24, 1840), in which O.K.
is abbrev. of Old
Modern dictionaries almost invariably offer an etymology that
mentions the interesting historical use of "Oll Korrect" and states
something to the effect that modern use of "O.K." is a product of
The strength of this etymology is Read's marquee-name authority.
Dictionary entries typically base their etymologies on a prominent
endorsement of him. One website offers this comment on any
etymology other than Read's: "Baloney. The etymology of OK was
masterfully explained by the distinguished Columbia University
professor Allen Walker Read." It further says that '[i]f Professor
Read says OK = oll korrect, that's good enough for me."
A weakness of this etymology is that neither Read nor anyone else
has documented any use of the expression after the humorous acronym
craze of 1840 that has even the vaguest reference to Martin Van
Another proposed induction of okay involves English-speaking
Americans taking up a locally-heard Native American
The emergence of the expression "OK" coincided with a seminal
period in the development of American popular culture.
The War of 1812 and the appearance on the American
scene of the frontiersman — both in the flesh and as a national
symbol — mark the beginning of an indigenous psyche
Americana which is strikingly reflected in the flood of
Americanisms originating in the nineteenth century.
The lingua franca
across much of this frontier was a
pidgin version of Choctaw, often referred to as Mobilian trade
language. The 1809 report of the Lewis and Clark Expedition stated
flatly that Mobilian was "spoken by all the Indians from the east
side of the Mississippi."
The Choctaw language and culture did indeed play a
disproportionately significant part in trade, military, and
religious affairs across the young country south of the Ohio River.
An 1836 scholarly paper explained that the structures, modes, and
inflexions of Choctaw made it easiest to use in some form by
Europeans, and it therefore became for them "a general medium of
intercourse with all the other adjacent Indian tribes."
The study was largely based on an 1825 spelling book which used the
to end over a quarter of
the sentences, but never included it in any word lists or
discussions. It was as if the assumption was that the reader needed
no explanation about how to use the expression. Later editions of
the Spelling Book
state that "o" is to be pronounced as
the "o" in "note," and "e" is to be pronounced as the "a" in
"made." The 1836 paper discussed sia hoke
declaration or exclamation of personal affirmation found in the
(Exodus 3:14): I am that I
Given the widespread popular assumption that Choctaw was more or
Indian language, it is understandable if some
variant of hoke
became widely regarded as the
Indian interjection of affirmation or, indeed, war cry. In 1839 the
respected Algonquian scholar Henry Schoolcraft wrote of an Ottawa
use of "Hoke ! Hoke !
" and offered a very
questionable etymology mentioning various Algonquian tribes' use of
the interjection "to imply approbation and assent." A variant of
or sia hoke
is part of the apocryphal
stories about Choctaw use of si hoka
to celebrate victory
to Andrew Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans in 1815.
Although the details of these apocryphal stories might be
questionable, it is virtually inconceivable that Jackson could
interact with Choctaws for years, adopt a Choctaw boy and yet not
use the "okeh" or "oke" expression. Andrew Jackson and his
Tennessee Volunteers certainly heard the word frequently from the
Choctaws while fighting side by side with them in the Pensacola
Campaign of the War of 1812. There are at least two recorded
conversations between Jackson and the Choctaw Chief Pushmataha in
which Pushmataha uses the Choctaw word in speaking to Jackson. It
is plausible that Jackson learned the expression from the Choctaws,
and then introduced it to Washington D.C. when he became
It might be noted that practice of referring to the expression with
the assumption the reader needs no explanation of it is common in
the usage of "O.K." An 1840 ad for a Jackson Breast Pin with the
"frightful letters O.K." celebrating "the hero of New Orleans" did
not bother to explain relationship between "O.K." and the Battle of
New Orleans or why the letters "O.K" were frightful – that is, that
they represented a war cry of savages. The ad indicates that such
information was widely and popularly known enough at the time to
justify the manufacture and sale of a lapel pin celebrating
At about the same time, the "O.K. Boys", a group "said to number
1,000 'bravos'" was established in New York City. They borrowed
"O.K." as their name and war cry ("flat burglary" according to one
wag), and as standard bearers for the New York Wigwam of the
, they beat drums, shouted "O.K."
and held pow-wows. (Bravos
is short for indios
— "wild Indians" or "Indian braves.") Tammany Hall was
often referred to as the Great Wigwam. Press coverage of the "O.K.
Boys" apparently did not include any explanation of source of their
The Arrow shirt company marketed an Okeh collar for a while with
the slogan "all that its name implies". The advertisers felt no
need to explain to the public what it was the name implied.
At any rate, there were more than 90,000 copies of books printed in
or about the Choctaw language before 1840 by religious interests
alone. It might be assumed the early Choctaw publications were
based on an appreciation for the Choctaw language or culture. Quite
the contrary, the purpose of them was to remove that language and
culture from American society or, as the editor put it in his
introduction to an 1870 Grammar of the Choctaw Language,
extinguishing the Choctaws' "evil habits" and "redeeming the nation
from drunkenness, ignorance and immorality to sobriety, godliness,
treated the expression okeh
detail, saying it was often used as an "affirmative
contradistinctive" particle meaning "it is so and not otherwise" to
emphasize a point being made. The English use of the particle
"O.K." as discussed earlier is very atypical of English syntax
which usually uses modifiers rather than particles, but it is very
typical of Choctaw.
also discussed various uses of oke
used as an interjection "to excite the attention of
the party addressed": This interjection is also used with a variety
of intonations to express other emotions as well, from joy to
lamentation, just as in English, where, depending on the tone of
voice, "okay" might be used to express anything from joyful
exuberance to grim capitulation and defeat.
was reprinted the next year by the American
Philosophical Society, and the Choctaw etymology endorsed by
historians in scholarly journals. In 1877 the Congrès International
des Americanistes in Luxembourg offered presentations in German
about the Chakta-Indianer
French about Le Chacta particule Okeh.
By 1879 "ok eh?"
was being used as an interjection in Dutch popular
When English language dictionaries began including "O.K." in the
early 1900s, they brought the Choctaw etymology to the general
O.K. [A humorous or ignorant spelling of what should be
*okeh, (...Choctaw (Chakta) okeh, an 'article
pronoun,' a kind of adjunct, meaning 'it is so,' having in the
'predicative form' a 'distinctive and final' use, ' okeh,
it so and in no other way'; also interjectionally, yai
okeh, thanks to you' Byington, Grammar of the Choctaw
Lang., p. 55); a use that may be
compared with that of the Hebrew and European
amen.] All right; correct: now commonly used as
an indorsement, as on a bill.
The publication in 1915 of A dictionary of the Choctaw
renewed interest in Choctaw loan words. Woodrow
Wilson was a highly respected historian and author of, among other
works, the five volume A History of the American People
before he became President. He always used that Choctaw "okeh" in
place of "O.K." and referred people who questioned his practice to
which cited the Choctaw etymology from
the 1870 Grammar
Wilson's "pedantic" use of "okeh" has been derided but it was
widely viewed as creating something of an "okeh" vogue beginning
about 1918.The expression was used in various federal and state
records. A 1930 volume of Proceedings of Michigan Natural
apparently used "Okeh" to okay items of
Much of the time the "okeh" or "oke" spelling was used, as might be
expected, in colloquial contexts. But not all the uses were folksy
or colloquial by any means. They were used in such respected
mainstream or literary publications as Popular Science,
The American Mercury,Scribner's magazine,
and The Rotarian
1918 development in the etymology of "O.K." was the creation of the
Okeh record label. The announcement of that event said "This name
is derived from the original Indian spelling of the term
colloquially known as O.K., standing for 'all right.'" The record
label originally had an Indian head in the logo.
Another explicit use the the Choctaw etymology dealt with the
British condiment, Mason's OK sauce. In 1885 George Mason & Co.
was specializing in beef broths and lozenges for invalids. In 1911
they added "O.K. sauce" to their line. They promoted it based on
"the Choctaw Oke or Hoke, meaning it is so." The "O.K." name became
such a hit that by 1929 they were also advertising "O.K." Pickles,"
and "O.K." Chutney. The British linguist Eric Partridge somewhat
sheepishly confessed that he, like "the general public in England,"
used the expression as a loanword from Choctaw until he encountered
Read's etymology and learned that any use of the expression other
than to refer to Martin Van Buren was erroneous.
"Oke" was a popular spelling for the expression in England and
brought back to the United States where, since it was presumedly
pronounced with a "long e" sound, it gave rise to the expression
When Read wrote his series of papers defending "Old Kinderhook" a
major challenge he faced was the impugning of the accepted Choctaw
etymology. His "Folklore" paper noted the widespread inclusion of
the Choctaw etymology in dictionaries — in over two dozen editions
of Merriam-Webster alone, for example, beginning in 1909: "Prob.
fr. Choctaw okeh
is is so and not otherwise." The papers
also reviewed explicit, intentional instances of the expression
being used as a Choctaw or at least Native loan word and cited
several endorsements of the Choctaw etymology by nationally
prominent scholars. The purpose behind Read's extraordinary
encyclopedic study, however, was the same purpose as the
missionaries' study of Choctaw a century earlier, that is, to
He offered no scholarly refutation of this material but merely
ridiculed it and dismissed it out of hand as the work of eccentric,
emotional Indian lovers, a disparagement he expanded upon in a
footnote. At one point, when he was asked to reply to etymologies
other than his own, he took a position of "icy disdain" and said
that was the only valid position to hold regarding "a collection of
old wives' tails." However, dismissing out of hand the Choctaw left
a big hole in Read's etymology: "'Old Kinderhook' is structurally
needed to explain why the Tammany politicians chose O.K.
as the name of the club of rowdies and the slogan to spark their
cheering and rioting."
It is a measure of the esteem in which Read was held and the power
that he wielded that his antipathy for the Choctaw immediately came
to be accepted. The 1815 Richardson's diary entry, far from being
the locus classicus
of the etymology of "O.K.," virtually
disappeared from the discussion. The fundamental principle of much
of that discussion is that there is no evidence for the Choctaw
etymology and that any intentional use of the expression with
reference to Native language or culture or any use of a Choctaw
loadword is "erroneous."
If mention is made of the Choctaw at all in dictionary entries
today it is probably disparaging. For example, The Random House
Historical Dictionary of American Slang
has four separate
entries for "O.K." and says that "okeh" is the obsolete equivalent
of each of them. It also says that "okeh," ('it is indeed') is a
Choctaw expression. But it nevertheless says that "[w]ithout
concrete evidence of a prior and established English borrowing from
Choctaw-Chickasaw" any "derivational claims" about a Choctaw
etymology are as "gratuitous" as those of the Liberian Djabo
"O-ke," the Mandingo "O ke," or the Ulster Scots "Ough, aye!"
The icy disdain or annoyance when "some wounded scholar raises a
plaintive cry in favor of okeh
" sets the tone for much of
Despite efforts to exclude the Choctaw etymology from any
discussion, the Choctaw expression "okeh" is still occasionally
used, sometimes in rather unexpected contexts The "O.K. sauce"
bottle mystique is alive and well on the Internet; a Google search
of "Masons OK sauce" yields over 50,000 ebay hits. And there are
hundreds of options for downloading lyrics, soundtracks, videos,
tweets, ringtones, etc. of the song "All Mixed Up" written by
and recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary
You know this language that we speak,
is part German, Latin and part Greek
Celtic and Arabic all in a heap,
well amended by the people in the street.
Choctaw gave us the word "okay"…
A strength of this etymology of "O.K." is a repeated explicit,
intentional reference to the Choctaw associated with its use as
well as the use of Choctaw loanwords, in particular okeh
Moreover, modern use of the expression validates observations
repeatedly made since 1836. English use of the expression employs
the same phonology and semantics as the Choctaw, and the syntax and
inflections are often very atypical of English but very typical of
Choctaw particles and interjections.
Documented instances exist well before 1839 of African slaves in
America being quoted phonetically using words strikingly similar to
the now common usage and meaning of okay
. For example, in
- "Kay, massa, you just leave me, me sit here, great fish jump up
into da canoe, here he be, massa, fine fish, massa; me den very
grad; den me sit very still, until another great fish jump into de
And a Jamaican planter's diary of 1816 records a "Negro" as
- "Oh ki, massa, doctor no need be fright, we no want to hurt
In particular, Wolof
is a West
African language which has had an unusually strong influence upon
(once) colloquial English, with (not so ) well documented examples
such as banana
, dig (it)
, and sock (someone)
, along with the contested
or hip cat
. Importantly, a key study
claims Wolof to be an important lingua
among American slaves.
"Waaw" means "yes" and the suffix "-kay" or "-kai" adds emphasis. A
simplistic word-for-word translation of Wolof's "wawkay" is "yes
[emphatically]" or "yes, indeed"; but better usage translations
would be "I agree", "I'll comply", "that's good", "that's right",
or "all correct". The consonance of this last translation with the
first documented usage of okay
could be significant, or
could be coincidence. However, okay'
s colloquial rather
than formal usage strongly coincides with other Wolof words which
have migrated documentedly into the American version of the English
language, and its earliest documented usage is explicitly
colloquial, not to say jocular. Significantly, the emergence of
in white Americans' vocabulary dates from a period
when many refugees from Southern slavery were arriving in the North
of the United States, where the word was first documented.
A strength of this etymology is its consonance with Read's own
documented evidence of the craze for "comical misspellings". These
typically took the form of phonetic transcriptions of locally heard
accents. For example, the German-accented (Pennsylvanian Dutch
-accented) "Vell, vot
ov it?" Many refugees from Southern slavery were arriving in the
North of the United States at the time of okay'
written appearance and it is likely that Boston residents would
have come in contact with Africans using Wolof terms and could well
have had wawkay
translated for them as "all
The underlying theme here is English-speaking Americans taking up a
locally-heard African word.
Whether this word is printed as OK, okay, or O.K. is a matter
normally resolved in the style manual for the publication involved.
Dictionaries and style guides such as the Chicago Manual of Style
York Times Manual of Style and Usage
||An alternative English spelling, no longer common
|kay or 'kay
||Notably used in Herman Wouk's
The Caine Mutiny as a
filler word by the maniacal Captain Queeg.
|k or kk
||Commonly used in instant
messaging, or in SMS messages. Commonly
attributed to have originated from actor/writer Sean Neil Connell.
|'mkay, m'kay, or mkay
||In use long before, but popularized by Mr. Van Driessen in
Beavis and Butt-head
and Mr. Mackey in South Park
||Used frequently by Giovanni Capello from Mind Your Language
||Popularly known at least by the 1930s in "The Little Raskles"
(Oki doki) and later popularized further as the catch phrase of
The Simpsons character
Ned Flanders (Oka-lee doka-lee). The
phrase can be extended further, e.g. "Okie dokie (ala) pokie /
smokie / artichokie," etc..
||Used in Poland, although 'ok' is
more common in written language; sometimes 'oki' is used in
||Used in Vietnam, "okey" is
also used, although 'ok' is more common
||Sometimes used in Norwegian,
Finnish and Latvian. Quite often in Estonian.
||Used in Swedish and sometimes
Latvian. "ok" is also used, but is less common.
||Used in Hungarian ok, okés,
okézsoké is also commonly used
|Okee or Oké
||Used in Dutch. "ok" and "okay"
are also used, but are less common in the formal written
||Phonetic translation in Dutch, used in informal written language in
the Flemish region of Belgium
||Especially in Latin American (Spanish) and Turkish.
in Finland. It
is pronounced the same way as "OK", but it's spelled like the
pronunciation of the letters.
||Used in Hindi and other North Indian
languages of India and neighbouring countries. OK is also used,
both in English as well as regional languages.
||Used in Czech. Oukej is pronounced as English OK. Czech also
recognises "OK", but the pronunciation of OK is [o:ka:]. Neither
version is recognized in the official language.
||Phonetic translation to Latin American Spanish.
can mean "all right" or "satisfactory". For example,
"I hope the children are okay" means "I hope the children are all
right"; "I think I did OK in the exam" means "I think I did well,
but not perfect, on the exam"; and "He is okay" means "He is good",
or "He is well", depending on context.
Depending on context and inflection, okay
can also imply
mediocrity. For example: "The concert was just
is sometimes used merely to acknowledge a question
without giving an affirmation. For example: "You're going to give
back the money that you stole, right?" "Okay."
in a sarcastic tone or questioning tone can
indicate that the person one is talking to is considered crazy
and/or exacerbatingly stubborn in their view. "I really saw a
last night!" "Okay...
can also be used as an exclamation in place of words
like "enough!" or "stop!"
can be a noun or verb meaning approval. "Did you get
the supervisor's okay?" "The boss okayed the proposal."
has become an essentially global term, used today in
most languages and most cultures around the world.
It is not uncommon amongst English speakers and is used almost
In Europe the word is widespread and well-recognized. In Swedish,
it is spelled "okej".
In Brazil and Mexico, as well as in other Latin American countries,
the word is pronounced just as it is in English and is used very
frequently. Although pronouncing it the same, Spanish speakers
often spell the word "okey" to conform with the pronunciation rules
of the language. In Brazil, it may be also pronounced as "ô-kei".
In Portugal, it is used with its Portuguese pronunciation and
sounds something like "ókâi".
speakers also use the word (أوكي) widely, particularly in areas of
former British occupation like Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Iraq, and
Palestine but also all over the Arab world due to the prevalence of
American cinema and television.
It is pronounced just as it
is in English but is very rarely seen in Arabic newspapers and
In Israel, the word okay
is common as an equivalent to the
Hebrew words בסדר [b'seder] ('in order') and טוב [tov] ('good'). It
is written as it sounds in English אוקיי.
It is used in Japan and Korea in a somewhat restricted sense,
fairly equivalent to "all right". Okay
is often used in
colloquial Japanese as a replacement for 大丈夫 (daijōbu "all
right") or いい (ii "good") and often followed by です (desu — the
In Chinese, the term "好" (hǎo; literally: "good"), can be modified
to fit most of usages of okay
. For example, "好了" (hao le)
closely resembles the interjection
usage of okay
. The "了" indicates a change of state, in
this case it indicates the achievement of consensus. Likewise, "OK"
is commonly transformed into "OK了" (OK le) when communicating with
foreigners or with fellow Cantonese speaking people in at least
Hong Kong and possibly to an extent, other regions of China.. Other
usages of Okay
such as "I am okay" can be translated as
"我还好". In Hong Kong, movies or dramas set in modern times use the
term "ok" as part of the sprinkling of English included in
otherwise Cantonese dialog. In Mandarin, it is also, somewhat
humorously, used in the "spelling" of the word for karaoke, "卡拉OK",
pronounced "kah-lah-oh-kei" (Mandarin does not natively have a
syllable with the pronunciation "kei"). On the computer, okay is
usually translated as "确定"， which means "confirm" or
In Taiwan, it is frequently used in various sentences, popular
among but not limited to younger generations. This includes the
aforementioned "OK了" (Okay le), "OK嗎" (Okay ma), meaning "Is it
okay?" or "OK啦" (Okay la), a strong, persuading affirmative, as
well as the somewhat tongue-in-cheek explicit yes/no construction
"O不OK?" (O bu Okay), "Is it okay or not?".
In the Philippines "okay lang" is a common expression, literally
meaning "just okay" or "just fine". They also use it in sms but
with the letter "k" only which means okay also.
, it is frequently used with
the emphatic suffix "lah": OK-lah.
, it is spelled "Ô
In India it is often used after a scentence to mean "did you get
it" often not regarded politely, e.g. "i want this job done. okay"
or at the end of a conversation(mostly on phone) preceeded with bye
as "okay, bye"
In the United States and most of Europe a related gesture is made
by touching the index finger with the thumb (forming a rough
circle) and raising of the remaining fingers (to form a 'K').
Similar gestures have other meanings in other cultures.
A typical modal dialog box with
is used to label buttons
in modal dialog boxes
error messages or print dialogs, indicating that the user must
press the button to accept the contents of the dialog box and
continue. It is often placed next to a Cancel
allows the user to dismiss the dialog box without accepting its
contents. When a modal dialog box contains only one button, it is
almost always labeled "OK" by convention and default
. In this usage, it is
usually rendered to the screen in upper
without punctuation: OK
, rather than
, or Ok
. The OK
button can probably be traced to user interface research done for
the Apple Lisa
. However, modern user
interface guidelines prefer to avoid modal dialog boxes if
possible, and use more specific verbs, such as Continue
to label their action buttons instead of the generic
normally responded to
user input with ok
On the Radio Shack TRS-80 Color
(1980), there was an "OK> prompt
", which indicated that the
Color Computer was ready to accept commands. This is also used in
the OLPC XO-1
Many PCs from the 1990s performed a memory check during start-up. A
counter showed the verified memory during the operation, sometimes
suffixed with OK
During the boot sequence of several Linux
distributions, after attempting to start each service the result is
[ OK ]
, the HyperText Transfer Protocol, upon
which the World Wide Web is based, a successful response from the
server is defined as OK
(with the numerical code 200
as specified in RFC 2616). The Session Initiation Protocol
defines a response, 200 OK
, which conveys success for most
requests (RFC 3261).
Some programming language interpreters such as BASIC
ready to accept input from the keyboard.
- Beath, Paul R. (1946). 'O.K.' in radio sign language.
American Speech, 21 (3), 235.
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Speech, 58 (4), 269-273.
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American Speech, 37 (4), 243-248.
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American Speech, 58 (3), 195-200.
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- see http://www.slate.com/id/2110811/
- Joseph E. Holloway, The Impact of African Languages on American
English—online repetition of several of Dalby's observations
- The article by Dalby is an example of
sloppy linguistics, but it is interesting to see it qualified
as key study for it fits the desire to prove the Wolof
origin of words.
- David Dalby (Reader in West African Languages,
SOAS, U of London). (1969) The Times 1969.07.19. Also: "independent
evidence of the importance of Wolof as a lingua franca among
- this is not true, but should be left in to show how people
want words to be Wolof
- Grammarphobia: I'm OK, you're okay
- Okeh as variant spelling of "okay"
- Moraitis, Nick. Cyberscene. Penguin Books Australia,
- Connell, Sean. night flower.lulu publishing
- 3 mins and 37 secs
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for dialog box buttons