The true origins of the word “okay / OK” are not known with any certainty and have been the subject of much discussion over the years.
(Here are a few of the proposed origins:-
- Initials of “oll korrect” Coined during a fad for comical misspellings and abbreviations. Documented by Allen Walker Read in 1964, and subsequently widely accepted by dictionaries and etymologists.
- Misspelling of “O.R.” for “Order Received” A common mistake in the Western U.S. owing to the similar shapes of the letters R and K as in a 1790 bill of sale from “Andrew Jackson, Esq., a bill of sale from Hugh McGary to Gasper Mansker for a negro man, which was O.K.” This is cited in Putnam’s History of Middle Tennessee. The assertion that the misspelling is common is added in James Parton’s 1860 Life of Andrew Jackson. Woodford Heflin in 1939 established that the 1790 bill did in fact read “O.R.” rather than “O.K.”
- Initials of “Old Kinderhook”. The nickname for Martin Van Buren, from his birthplace in Kinderhook, New York; which was used as a slogan in the 1840 presidential election 1840 !by 1840 editor of the New York New Era 1840 !27 May 1840 Reinterpreted by supporters of rival William Henry Harrison as “Out of Kash”, “Orful Kalamity”, etc. Allen Walker Read suggests this exploited and reinforced the pre-existing “oll korrect” sense.
- Initials of “O’Kelly” or “Obediah Kelly” An early railroad agent or engineer certifying bills or deliveries.
- Initials of Onslow and Kilbracken On bills reviewed by the Lord Chairman of Committees of the House of Lords (Onslow) and his counsel (Kilbracken) 1932 ! A jocular proposal by Kilbracken’s son, then a student, in a letter to The Times in response to Sir Anthony Palmer’s earlier letter.
- Initials of “outer keel” Each timber in a wooden-hulled ship would be marked; “O.K. No 1” was the first timber to be laid proposed by John D. Forbes 1936.
- Hoacky or horkey: Name for the harvest festival in eastern England. Proposed by Wilfred White in 1935 in an article in the Daily Telegraph. The phrase “hocky cry” is attested from 1555.
- Initials of “Zero Killed” In military dispatches after a battle or combat mission in which no casualties had been suffered. This was first mentioned in 1990 in an Italian dictionary.
- Short for och aye (“ah, yes”) by Scottish immigrants. Proposed in 1933 in a letter to The Observer newspaper.
- Initials of “Old Keokuk” The Sac chief signed treaties with these initials. Appears in the Century Dictionary in 1890.
So, you can make your own mind up. OK?)