Mo delves into Etymology

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Mo Says!!

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Dear CFFS,

Where does the expression "OK" come from?

Jargon student in Jackson

Dear Jargon student:

Mo Says that OK derives from the OK Club, which supported Martin "Old Kinderhook" Van Buren in 1840. They're the result of a fad for comical abbreviations that flourished in the late 1830s and 1840s. The abbreviation fad began in Boston in the summer of 1838 and spread to New York and New Orleans in 1839. The Boston newspapers began referring satirically to the local swells as OFM, "our first men," and used expressions like NG, "no go," GT, "gone to Texas," and SP, "small potatoes." Most of these acronyms enjoyed only a brief popularity. But OK was an exception. It first found its way into print in Boston in March of 1839. It didn't really enter the language at large, however, until 1840. That's when Democratic supporters of Martin Van Buren adopted it as the name of their political club, giving OK a double meaning. ("Old Kinderhook" was a native of Kinderhook, New York.)