Whether you are an English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, or Japanese (the list goes on) native speaker, you have most likely used, or have heard some form of the word “okay” or “OK” in your lifetime. In fact, it has been adopted by almost more languages than any other word. While “OK” can take on a few different meanings, the sense of the word is relatively the same between countries, most often used affirmatively to mean “all right” or “yes”.

However, there is some controversy regarding the origin of the word. Hypotheses include that it is an abbreviation for Old Kinderhook, US President Martin van Buren’s nickname, that it is an adaptation of the word “okeh” in the Native American Choctaw language, that it comes from the Scottish “och aye” or the Latin “omnia correcta”, or that it comes from the initials of a shipping clerk named Obadiah Kelly. However, some have concluded that the most likely origin, as was determined by the British Privy Council in 1935, is that it stands for “oll korrect,” a misspelling of “all correct,” which has been attributed (rightly or wrongly) to US President Andrew Jackson. According to the British Privy Council who investigated the word as part of a court case, “the letters hail from the U.S.A. and represent a spelling, humorous or uneducated, of the words ‘All Correct.’”

No matter its origin, OK has not strayed much from its original meaning of “all correct.” First published in the Boston Morning Post in 1839, the word has now traveled around the world and has become incorporated into everyday usage in a wide range of languages.

Although OK is a nearly internationally-understood word, , as a leader in multilingual translation services, can help you translate all of those words that are not so easy to understand in other languages. Please contact us for a Free Quote on your next translation project.

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