The 1820s and 1830s shared another linguistic fad with today: an appreciation for deliberate misspellings. (Kewl, rite?) This trend, which had humorists adopting now-cringey bumpkin personas with ignorance manifested in uneducated spellings, turned no go into know go and no use into know yuse (lol). Abbreviations were not immune, and no go became K.G.. So too all right became O.W., as an abbreviation for oll wright. And all correct became o.k., as an abbreviation for oll korrect.
Although OK became one of the more commonly used initialisms, it might have passed into oblivion when the linguistic fad had passed if not for the presidential election of 1840, when Martin Van Buren was given the nickname of “Old Kinderhook” because of his hometown of Kinderhook, NY. The Van Buren stans who joined “OK Clubs” nationwide were themselves, they proclaimed, “OK.” Their campaign was memorable enough to have both popularized the word and to have hijacked the story of its origin: there are today still those who believe that “Old Kinderhook” is the original meaning of OK.
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