Ok and Okay: (Definition, Etymology and Correct Usage)

This post, Ok and Okay: (Definition, Etymology and Correct Usage), examines the correct spelling of these words which indicate agreement to or approval of what somebody has said or done. It also touches on the origin of the word ok and considers the various Parts of Speech that the word belongs to. Let us see the etymology…

Ok Etymology

It is said that there are many notions of the origin of ‘ok’. But one principle that has gained acceptance over the years as to the origin of ‘ok’ is that the word is an abbreviation for ‘all correct’, which in the 19th Century American spelling is written as ‘orl korrect’.

Old Kinderhook Meaning

Encarta dictionary opined that the above notion was reinforced by the fact that the word was coincidentally also the initial letters of Old Kinderhook, the nickname of U.S. president Martin Van Buren (born in Kinderhook, New York), and was used as a slogan in the presidential election of 1840 (a year after the first record of OK in print).

Ok and Okay

These are both acceptable spelling of an informal word indicating agreement or approval, as in:

  • It is ok/okay.
  • OK/okay, I’ll come with you.
  • We have at last been given the OK/okay to begin building.

Difference Between Ok and Okay

When we use the word as a verb, we more usually spell it as okay because of the problem in adding endings, such as:

  • The government okayed our proposal at last.
  • He is yet to okay his wife’s trip to the Bahamas.
  • The president has okayed his itinerary.

Sometimes, we write OK with full stops as O.K. However, OK is the more acceptable way to spell the word.

OK Definitions

As we have established that these words OK and Okay mean the same thing, let us see some definitions and the usage of these two words. Mostly, we use these words in the informal sense.

OK as an Interjection

As an interjection, OK means the following:

An indication of agreement to or approval of what somebody has said or done. For example:

  • “Can you help?” “OK. What do you want me to do?”
  • I have seen it; it is OK.

In another vein, we use OK to check for approval; in other words, we use it at the end of a statement to ask whether somebody has understood, agreed with or approved of what was said as we have in the following:

  • We would have to travel light; OK?
  • It is your duty to arrange for the meeting, OK?
  • We cannot all go into the office, OK?

We can also use show that something is finished and that something else will now be done or discussed as we have in these examples:

  • OK, let us pick another topic to discuss.
  • OK, having thrashed that issue, let us move on.

As an Adjective

When we use OK as an adjective it means the following:

Acceptable, passable or tolerable but not exceptional

  • It is OK for a first effort.
  • Well, her score is fairly OK.
  • The plan is a bit OK.

 Physically well and in good health or condition

  • I’ll be OK if I can just sit down for a minute.
  • The dog is OK.
  • Her car is not OK.
  • The athletes are quite fit and OK.

 Allowable, acceptable to somebody or permissible

  • Is it OK for me to use your phone?
  • Is it OK to use your bathroom?
  • Would it be OK if I rest a bit?

 Fairly good or pleasant; better than just satisfactory or acceptable

  • The school is OK; the students are doing fine.
  • The teachers are OK; they get along with their students very well.

OK as an Adverb

As an adverb, OK means fairly well, acceptable, tolerable or satisfactory as in:

  • Except for few glitches, everything is going OK.

Transitive verb

As a transitive verb, OK means to give approval for or agreement to something as in:

  • He needs the president to okay his trip.
  • I just need you to OK the minutes of the meeting

It also means to obtain somebody’s consent/approval for or agreement to something as in:

  • You will need to OK your pass with the Manager.
  • I need to OK the credit facility with my partner.

Ok as a Noun

As a noun, OK means approval for doing something or agreement to do something as in:

  • Whenever the boss gives the OK, she will commence the job.
  • As soon as the governor gives the OK, the criminals will be executed.

Closing Words

Many words look confusing but with proper understanding, we can master their appropriate usage. Check out some other posts on Akademia and share with your friends. Do all Adverbs end in ly? Check out the answer!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *