Have you ever used the word “OK”?
Well if you’re a human being and you can speak you probably have. Most people have used the word “OK” at least once in their life, but they probably couldn’t pinpoint one, exact definition of the word. Just One definition. This is most likely just me, but I have sometimes wondered why some words have had more definitions and connotations than other words (“OK” really being the main thought.) “OK” is such a widely used term, one would think the general population could find an exact definition, or even better, the exact and appropriate time to use the word “OK”. Unfortunately, there are thousands of circumstances where someone could use it.
The word “OK” is not a word shrouded with lots of rich history but is pretty relevant in today’s society. It’s an abbreviation with so many different meanings it’s tough to pinpoint a textbook definition or a direct history.
Etymonline.com states the meaning of the word goes back to an 1839, New York fad as an abbreviation of “oll korrect” (it was a purposefully misspelled version of ’all correct’ The modern population does this a lot, for example ‘kewl or hawt’.) The phrase means basically means what I thought it would mean: to express agreement or to say something is satisfactory but not great. But the term “OK” has more than one meaning. It became widely popular because it was used as an election slogan for the “O.K. Club” which were boosters of Democratic president Martin Van Buren’s 1840 re-election bid, in allusion to his nickname Old Kinderhook. That’s when multiple meanings for the term “OK” started to become more common and the abbreviation eventually becoming student slang in 1932. But enough with the history lesson…
Now, it can mean so many different things depending on how you spell it, what punctuation you use, or what context it is being used. For instance saying OK. And OK… or even Okaaaaaay! can mean an agreement or the confusion of the reader or “Alright! Let’s do it!!” There are just so many different ways to use it.
Today, “OK” is an actual word, I mean it is in the dictionary and everything, which I guess classifies it as a word. For me, I have never thought about the meaning when I use slang like “OK”. I automatically assume the person I am talking to knows what I am saying. I’m think you most likely assume the same thing. This is partly a generational thing. The people my age have a different meaning for words then our grandparents did. For instance in the 1920’s “bimbo” meant a really tough guy (modern version would be like ‘badass’), yet if someone said that now I would think of an air-headed girl. The reactions are polar opposites. When it comes to slang the meaning can change in an instant and usually goes out of style, like saying “Raise the roof” or “YOLO”. However, for the word “OK”, generations and generations have used it. Who knows how long the saying will be around, it could be forever. Unlike today’s slang, when someone says “OK” almost everyone understand what they are trying to say. The connotation of words is different from generation to generation, year to year, and person to person; but the ones that last connect everyone that uses them. Ok, I’m done.