Words that sound similar to “OK” have been used by diverse cultures and in diverse languages for centuries to express the same sentiment. But most of those words have no relationship to the modern word “OK.”
Oxford Dictionaries explains: “It does not seem at all likely, from the linguistic and historical evidence, that it comes from the Scots expression och aye, the Greek ola kala (‘it is good’), the Choctaw Indian oke or okeh (‘it is so’), the French aux Cayes (‘from Cayes’, a port in Haiti with a reputation for good rum) or au quai (‘to the quay’, as supposedly used by French-speaking dockers), or the initials of a railway freight agent called Obediah Kelly who is said to have written them on documents he had checked.”
So What Is the Origin of ‘OK’?
Oxford Dictionaries and Dictionary.com state that “OK” likely comes from “Orl Korrekt,” a humorous misspelling of “all correct,” a term popular in the 1830s.
Another possibility, explains Oxford Dictionaries, is that the word may have originated among slaves of West African origin, though the origin is hard to pinpoint with certainty.
*Image of thumbs-up via Shutterstock