Today In History: ‘O.K.’ Used In Print For First Time

March 22, 1839

Boston Magazine

“O.K.” is one of the most-used terms in the English language. Believe it or not, it was only used in print for the first time in 1839, when it was included in an edition of The Boston Morning Post.

OK stands for “oll korrect,” a deliberate misspelling of “all correct.” The joke dates to around 1830. An unlikely candidate for inclusion in the everyday vernacular of every English-speaking person on the planet.


When O.K. was printed in the Post, politicians used it to signal their cleverness. Martin Van Buren founded a coalition called “the O.K. Club,” a nod to “oll korrect” and also his nickname, “Old Kinderhook.” O.K. was also used pejoratively towards Andrew Jackson, an ally of Van Buren.

There have been other theories about the origin of the phrase, though “oll korrect” is considered the most plausible. Other theories posit that it was derived from “Orrin Kendall,” a kind of biscuit distributed to soldiers. Another claims that O.K. stands for Aux Cayes. Yet another says that it was derived from the name of Old Keokuk, a Choctaw chief.

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