Is it OK or okay – and why?

Where does OK come from?

It was popularised and begun in 1840 as a slogan of the O.K. Club, a Democratic party political club of the 1840s.

It stands for Old Kinderhook, the nickname of President Martin Van Buren, born at Kinderhook, New York.

It became popular to describe a member of this club as ‘an OK guy’ because the party was seen largely as a positive thing at the time; hence, so were its members.

It moved into being used to mean someone who was alright!

You might have seen ‘okay’ written:

‘Okay’ is the form used when there is an inflectional ending: okayed; okaying. It is called the quasi-phonetic written form – other instances of this are:

  • DJ deejay
  • MC emcee
  • In American English, jaycee is used for ‘Junior Chamber of Commerce member’.

However, in written communications, we should use OK, unless there is an inflectional requirement.