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I was satisfying my curiosity as to what OK really stood for and thought I would share it with you.

Here is the origin of the word OK.

Posted on Monday, November 29, 2004 5:57 AM Others | Back to top


Comments on this post: Origin of OK

# re: Origin of OK
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Actually that is incorrect. OK is short for "Ola Kala" which literally means "all good" which in other words means "all is good"...OK!

"Ola Kala", or OK for short, was a nautical message exchanged at sea by Greeks [it is still used today in Greece as a question/answer]

- Ola Kala?
-Ola Kala!
Left by Daniel Moth on Nov 29, 2004 9:43 AM

# re: Origin of OK
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following passage is from the book, By the Flow of the Inland River - The Settlement of Columbus, Mississippi to 1825, by Samuel H. Kaye, Rufus Ward, Jr., and Carolyn B. Neault. Columbus, MS 1992.
". . .During the Creek War the Choctaws, principally under the leadership of Pushmataha, not only sided with the Americans but contributed 500 men to Andrew Jackson's army (Niles 1-1-1824)
- Although the Creek war was over, the Choctaw contingent would help the Americans in one last battle. In January, 1815, tradition has it that Pushmataha and his warriors, while serving under Andrew Jackson at the Battle of New Orleans, gave a lasting contribution to the English Language. During the battle, Jackson is said to have asked Pushmataha if the fight against the British was going well for the Choctaw detachment. Pushmataha supposedly answered with a Choctaw word which meant that things were all right. Jackson liked the word and began using it himself. The word was OK. According to the Dictionary of Word Origins, the favored source for the symbol OK ". . seems to be the Choctaw word OKEH, it is so" (Shipley). The use is also attributed to President Andrew Jackson among others." [Rufus Ward intimates it may have actually been Pushmataha's nephew who had this reported exchange with Jackson. Also, it may have been Jackson's adjutant who made the inquiry.]
Left by STEVE JACKSON on Dec 30, 2004 6:44 AM

# re: Origin of OK
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One of the first Quality Control experts, Otto Kreuger, A german immigrant. was the official parts instector at the first Ford assembly plant. All parts passing his detailed inspection were stamped with his initials.
Left by Phil Landerer on Feb 11, 2005 8:42 PM

# re: Origin of OK
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I am led to believe that during the American Civil War dispatches from the front indicating casualties started with K = Killed. If there were no fatalaties the report was OK - meaning zero killed. Makes sense to me.
Left by Dr Know on Sep 01, 2005 3:09 AM

# re: Origin of OK
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thank you!
Left by shuyinhe on Nov 14, 2006 4:47 AM

# re: Origin of OK
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Being a Greek myself I find it rather impossible for the Greek phrase "ola kala" to be the origin of "OK" because "OK" was first introduced around the time Greece was having it's fight for independence, thus not having any great international infuence in any manner. If it was around 1900+ then it "could" stand true since then was the time where greece started it's journey in naval trade. But still it's impossible such a small country to make such a huge impact due to some naval traders, I mean come on... The same could be aplyed to all the others Scotish Indians or Africans. They are nice legends to make their people feel supperior. Nothing wrong with that.

Zero killed is the kewlest possible answear btw and I believe it has the most chances to be true.
Left by Polisss on Apr 01, 2007 4:15 PM

# re: Origin of OK
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OK=ALL KILLED. UNCONVENCIONAL ARMY UNIT OF BLACK SLAVES HUNTERS OF AMERICAN INDIANS, WHEN RETURNING FROM THEIR HUNTING TRIP WHIT THEIR SCALPED SKINS FROM THE AMERICAN INDIANS KILLED BABIES, OLD MAN, BOYS AND GIRLS SHOWING HIS TWO FINGERS MEANING THAT THEY WHERE GOING TO BE PAY TWO DOLLARES FOR EACH SCALP.THAT IS THE ORIGEN OF THE WORD...OK.
Left by Jose Gomez Rodriguez on Apr 03, 2008 9:08 AM

# re: Origin of OK
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The origins of okay are not known with certainty, and have been the subject of much discussion and academic interest over the years. While it originated as an English language word it is commonly used in many other languages in the 21st Century.
Wikipedia
Left by RT on Apr 19, 2008 3:02 PM

# Origin of OK
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"The origins of okay are not known with certainty, and have been the subject of much discussion and academic interest over the years. While it originated as an English language word it is commonly used in many other languages in the 21st Century."
Wikipedia
Left by RT on Apr 19, 2008 3:12 PM

# re: Origin of OK
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I'd like to answer the above comment by Polisss.

You may be Greek, but it doesn't seem that you've done your naval history lesson very well.

Re-vitalisation of the Greek merchant marine had already started in 1656 in Hydra, rightly followed by Spetses, Androns, Kasos, Psara and Mykonos. The real boom was in mid 18th century. Galaxidi had 50 registered ships of a total 10,000 tons and 1,000 seamen in 1764, Mesolongi had 80 ships in 1770. Around 1800, there were built about 2,000 ships in Greece. First three Greek insurance companies were formed in 1792 in Trieste, and 1808 and 1814 in Odessa. 600 ships in Greek hands took part in the war of independence of 1821 but only 50 survived. [Even the flag of Greece is the flag of the navy at the time, for the important role in the national revolution. The flag of the army was just the blue-white cross.]

In 1834 when statistics begun in -now independent- Greece there were 708 ships, and 1437 ships by 1851 with 237,000 gross tons. Greeks were among the firsts to have steamed engines as well, around that time. In end 19th century most ship owners moved from various places to the City of London. [Today, around 16-20% of world commercial navy belongs to Greek hands.]

I haven't got any proof that "ok" emanates from "ola kala", but I can't reject the claim on the basis of neither being "too early" (to form significant commercial navy) nor "too small country" (to have an effect on something like that).

Left by Andreas on May 14, 2008 2:45 AM

# re: Origin of OK
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you have learned naval history very weel but what about grammar?during that time in greece we used to speak ancient greek and the phrase "ola kala" was not actually in use......
Left by niki on Jun 11, 2008 9:43 PM

# re: Origin of OK
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The comment left by Jose Gomez Rodriguez doesn't seem to make ANY sense.

How do you get OK=All Killed instead of 0 (zero) Killed? As far as holding the hand up "showing the two fingers", are you refering to the origin of the SIGN for OK (okay)? Also, difficult to understand your post due to grammar and spelling. but thanks for your input.
Left by John Campbell on Jan 22, 2009 3:20 AM

# re: Origin of OK
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Sorry Phil,

First recognised use of O.K. was in 1839, long before the existence of the assembly line. If Otto Krueger really existed (which I do not deny) he may well have written O.K. because it was already in widespread use and it was only coincidence that he had the same initials.
Left by Lid Bass on Feb 03, 2009 7:05 AM

# re: Origin of OK
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OK! Who really cares? OK?
Left by layyy on Apr 07, 2009 5:21 AM

# re: Origin of OK
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If you don't care why are you posting a comment?
Left by Michael on Sep 16, 2010 4:57 AM

# re: Origin of OK
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I found all the comments pretty interesting...Some of you are close...except those mentioning that OK is somehow related to kills...or names..Why someone will say..."everything is good" stated from kills?

So let me help..


In the Ancient History....of the then known trade and market world, it is known that the Greek first..and then the Roman trading and shipping was ruling. However the international and commercial law of the times assisted Quality Officers checking on the products transported from the producer the the client.
Only two notes.
Liquids like olive oil and wine and foods were placed in clay pots. The Officers then were checking the cargo....noting that a product is good and fine. They had to sign this on the clay pots....since paperwork was not a common.

The Officer had to write on the pot..." It is fine and checked". In Greek this is "OLA KALA" = Everything is Fine (which is actually and the modern meaning of OK...)

In that time Greeks and later Romans were using letters more than symbols. And where whole worlds dont fit....just initials were enough.
Imagine you have to check thousands of clay pots every day. With their white pensil they had to write "OLA KALA" in every pot....or else O.K.

This stayed on in the Roman and later Byzantine Empire...and all over trading nations as a trade logo...of the given trade abbreviations.. Something like the Pilots or Shipping Language that is universal.

Now in modern word this came as a shipping standard....It was used in shipping and trade and passed in USA especially when Mediterranean workers working in the Ellis Island....as officers..were using this when signing the papers of immigrants entering the country...

I know there are many that would dislike connections with ancient history...but some things are well written in time and history.. Hope this helps then....


Left by Athan on Nov 16, 2010 4:47 AM

# re: Origin of OK
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Not to hack down any one of you answers, but has any one of you thought that there is a possibility that maybe you're ALL slightly correct? With the exception of Jose Gomez Rodriguez, his answer was not only incredibly ridiculous and retarded, but also most likely made up as he has no proof of any of that being true. My suggestion for any of the nerds that care so much about the origin of this stupid abreviation is to actually research this on Wikipedia, or some actual research facility. Be open minded and relize maybe everything you say id not ALWAYS right. Maybe you can be wrong! But even if you are you'll probably never admit it.
So in conclusion; there is more than one right answer. Whether it be 'Ola Kala' or 'Zero Kills' which of any of you people have the right to tell anyone else they are wrong?

(except the Jose weirdo.. he is definitely wrong haha)
Left by Davey on Nov 23, 2010 7:27 AM

# re: Origin of OK
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OLA KALA was in use in Ancient Greek... For God's shake are you Greek or what?????
Left by pips on Jan 08, 2011 4:59 PM

# re: Origin of OK
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i recently came to knw an information from a very old man regarding the origin of "O.K". As per him, in early days of the british railways , there used to be parcel service. and there were two form, 1. Paid 2. To be Paid. but both the consignements would be despatched together. To differentiate between these two, the clerk named "Obthaya Kellis" would mark his initials on the paid one to differntiate it from to be paid.. Slowly all other clerks started using the initial of the clerk which started spreading to differntiate the consignments.
Left by ravishankar on Jul 03, 2012 4:15 PM

# re: Origin of OK
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All these explainations are very weird. O.K. comes from i cant remember the war. But at the end of the day they put a 0 cero and a K outside their tents representing how many soldiers were killed from that camp....
Not that difficult to understand really
Left by jorge garcia on Nov 21, 2012 3:22 AM

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