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OK 1 or o·kay (ō-kā) Informal
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adj.
1.
a. Satisfactory or agreeable; acceptable: Was everything OK with your stay?
b. Correct: That answer is OK.
c. Barely satisfactory; mediocre: made an OK presentation.
2.
a. In proper or satisfactory operational or working order: Is the battery OK?
b. Uninjured or not seriously injured: The skier fell but was OK.
c. Fairly healthy: Thanks to the medicine, the patient is OK now.
n. pl. OK's or o·kays
Approval; agreement: Get your supervisor's OK before taking a day off.
adv.
Fine; well enough; adequately: a television that works OK despite its age.
interj.
Used to express approval or agreement.
tr.v. OK'ed or OK'd, OK'·ing, OK's or o·kayed or o·kay·ing or o·kays
To approve of or agree to; authorize.

[Abbreviation of oll korrect, slang respelling of all correct.]

Word History: OK is a quintessentially American term that has spread from English to many other languages. Its origin was the subject of scholarly debate for many years until Allen Walker Read showed that OK is based on a joke of sorts. OK is first recorded in 1839 but was probably in circulation before that date. During the 1830s there was a humoristic fashion in Boston newspapers to reduce a phrase to initials and supply an explanation in parentheses. Sometimes the abbreviations were misspelled to add to the humor. OK was used in March 1839 as an abbreviation for all correct, the joke being that neither the O nor the K was correct. Originally spelled with periods, this term outlived most similar abbreviations owing to its use in President Martin Van Buren's 1840 campaign for reelection. Because he was born in Kinderhook, New York, Van Buren was nicknamed Old Kinderhook, and the abbreviation proved eminently suitable for political slogans. That same year, an editorial referring to the receipt of a pin with the slogan O.K. had this comment: "frightful letters ... significant of the birth-place of Martin Van Buren, old Kinderhook, as also the rallying word of the Democracy of the late election, 'all correct'.... Those who wear them should bear in mind that it will require their most strenuous exertions ... to make all things O.K."

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 
OK 2
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abbr.
Oklahoma

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices

    Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

    Indo-European Roots

    Semitic Roots

    The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.

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