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Words and Sayings

How do You Spell "Okay"?
Dr. Orville Boyd Jenkins

What is the correct way to spell the word meaning "all right:" OK, Ok, or okay. The dictionaries spell it different ways.

The fact that different dictionaries spell it differently gives you the answer: there is no single definitive spelling. All the dictionary does is report the prevailing usage.

Usage is the Authority
The English language has no official academy or commission which authoritatively defines formal spelling or other rules. Spelling is a matter of convention, preference and prevailing practice, and is constantly in the process of change.

The Full Word?
The full word, of course, is "okay." The actual origin of this is uncertain, but is thought to be itself possibly a shortened form of a longer phrase. The common short phonetic acronym OK has been in use for about 100 years.

The World Word
In addition, this word is used in many languages around the world, such as Greek and Swahili, having been borrowed from English due to its ease and frequency of use.

To learn the meaning, histories and usages of English words use the free online service,
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Consider the Meriam-Webster word-of-the-day letter, which adds the cultural background of the daily word.

First answered on an internet discussion group
Expanded article posted 16 February 2003

Orville Boyd Jenkins, EdD, PhD

Copyright © Orville Boyd Jenkins 2000, 2003
Permission granted for free download and transmission for personal or educational use.  Other rights reserved.

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