OK is OK to Use When Speaking English

Okay? OK?

How often do you use the word OK? The word OK has become widely popular throughout the world and in many languages as a signal of well-being.

The BBC News Magazine has recently posted an article looking into the origins and usage of the word OK. Although having first appeared in speech in the mid-nineteenth century, the word OK is still only used when speaking English. It is a conversational term that has yet to be accepted by written English. The BBC notes,

You won’t find OK in prepared speeches. Indeed, most formal speeches and reports are  free of OK. Modern English translations of the Bible remain almost entirely OK-free. Many a published book has not a single instance of OK.*

Everyone uses the word on a daily basis but not in formal writing.

There are also symbols and hand gestures to say OK. Even though they won’t say it in a speech, heads of state use symbols that also mean OK.

Bill Clinton giving a thumbs up which also indicates OK:


Often – (adverb) many times : on many occasions.

Widely – (adverb) over or through a wide area : in or to many places.

Origins – (noun) the point or place where something begins or is created : the source or cause of something.

Usage – (noun) the act of using something.

Century – (noun) a period of 100 years counted from the beginning of the Christian era.

Conversational – (adjective) relating to or suggesting informal talk : relating to or suggesting conversation.

Speech – (noun) a spoken expression of ideas, opinions, etc., that is made by someone who is speaking in front of a group of people.

Gestures – (noun) a movement of your body (especially of your hands and arms) that shows or emphasizes an idea or a feeling.

Head of state – (noun) individual that serves as the chief public representative of a monarchy, republic, federation, commonwealth or other kind of state.

Indicates – (verb) to show (something).
*“How ‘OK’ took over the world,” BBC News Magazine, accessed February 18, 2011, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-12503686.

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