AnnieKO'Connor

OK, so OMG is in the OED

6 Comments

Once upon a time a bizarre fad gripped English speakers and caused them to say ridiculous things. It didn’t last long, and not terribly much came of it, but there is a significant remnant lurking among our speech and dictionaries even to this day.

In the late 1830s, in Boston and New York, people deliberately abbreviated phrases to the first letter of each word. But before they did so, they misspelled the words in the phrase, altering the first letters. Thus, KG became a way of saying “No go” (based on the misspelling “Know go”.)

The fad was influential enough that Martin van Buren even used a popular abbreviation in his campaign for re-election in 1840. Yes, the silly habit of abbreviating misspelled words was used by the then president of the United States.

He didn’t use KG. He used the abbreviation for “oll korrect”: OK.

OK is in the dictionary, not unlike OMG or LOL.

Sometimes language changes because people like being silly, or because people like using shorthand ways of saying (or typing) things. But the English language didn’t die in 1838. I’m guessing 2011 isn’t its end, either.

English is brilliantly capable of accepting new forms of words, phrases and grammatical structures, and still chugging right along. It’s still possible to write well, to write beautifully and to write effectively in English. I for one like this funny little language; I can’t wait to see where we take it.

(Oh, and I’m not actually making this up. See?)

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6 thoughts on “OK, so OMG is in the OED

  1. One of my favorite additions to English is Lewis Carroll’s combination of chuckle and snort: chortle. Hurray for language!

    • I like chortle. I kinda wish it had been snorkle though. That way there’d be one more question in the world parents couldn’t answer: “How come snorkle and snorkel are spelled alike, but mean different things?”

  2. Jessi, I LOVE the word chortle.

    Annie, well put. My discovery of OK’s origin was fairly recent, and it came as a shock to discover that the capsed OK is preferred to the more elegant okay.

  3. This is brilliant. IAGTHTRI (I am going to have to remember it).

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