Skip to search.
Reference
Dictionary
Encyclopedia
Thesaurus
World Factbook

 
Search Dictionary:

Houghton Mifflin

OK1 or o·kay  audio  (-k) KEY  Informal

NOUN:
pl. OK's or o·kays
Approval; agreement: Get your supervisor's OK before taking a day off.
ADJECTIVE:
  1. Agreeable; acceptable: Was everything OK with your stay?
  2. Satisfactory; good: an OK fellow.
  3. Not excellent and not poor; mediocre: made an OK presentation.
  4. In proper or satisfactory operational or working order: Is the battery OK?
  5. Correct: That answer is OK.
  6. Uninjured; safe: The skier fell but was OK.
  7. Fairly healthy; well: Thanks to the medicine, the patient was OK.
ADVERB:
  1. Used to express approval or agreement.
  2. Fine; well enough; adequately: a television that works OK despite its age.
TRANSITIVE VERB:
OK'ed or OK'd or o·kayed, OK'·ing or o·kay·ing, OK's or o·kays
To approve of or agree to; authorize.

ETYMOLOGY:
Abbreviation of oll korrect, slang respelling of all correct

WORD HISTORY:
OK is a quintessentially American term that has spread from English to many other languages. Its origin was the subject of scholarly debate for many years until Allen Walker Read showed that OK is based on a joke of sorts. OK is first recorded in 1839 but was probably in circulation before that date. During the 1830s there was a humoristic fashion in Boston newspapers to reduce a phrase to initials and supply an explanation in parentheses. Sometimes the abbreviations were misspelled to add to the humor. OK was used in March 1839 as an abbreviation for all correct, the joke being that neither the O nor the K was correct. Originally spelled with periods, this term outlived most similar abbreviations owing to its use in President Martin Van Buren's 1840 campaign for reelection. Because he was born in Kinderhook, New York, Van Buren was nicknamed Old Kinderhook, and the abbreviation proved eminently suitable for political slogans. That same year, an editorial referring to the receipt of a pin with the slogan O.K. had this comment: "frightful letters ... significant of the birth-place of Martin Van Buren, old Kinderhook, as also the rallying word of the Democracy of the late election, 'all correct' .... Those who wear them should bear in mind that it will require their most strenuous exertions ... to make all things O.K."


Visit our partner's site
Provided by Houghton Mifflin
logoeReference -- Download this interactive reference software to your desktop computer