The Improbable Story of America's Greatest Word

Book - 2010
Average Rating:
Rate this:
It is said to be the most frequently spoken (or typed) word on the planet, more common than an infant's first word ma or the ever-present beverage Coke. It was even the first word spoken on the moon. It is "OK" -- the most ubiquitous and invisible of American expressions, one used countlesstimes every day. Yet few of us know the secret history of OK - how it was coined, what it stood for, and the amazing extent of its influence.Allan Metcalf, a renowned popular writer on language, here traces the evolution of America's most popular word, writing with brevity and wit, and ranging across American history with colorful portraits of the nooks and crannies in which OK survived and prospered. He describes how OK was born as alame joke in a newspaper article in 1839 - used as a supposedly humorous abbreviation for "oll korrect" (ie, "all correct") - but should have died a quick death, as most clever coinages do. But OK was swept along in a nineteenth-century fad for abbreviations, was appropriated by a presidentialcampaign (one of the candidates being called "Old Kinderhook"), and finally was picked up by operators of the telegraph. Over the next century and a half, it established a firm toehold in the American lexicon, and eventually became embedded in pop culture, from the "I'm OK, You're OK" of 1970'stransactional analysis, to Ned Flanders' absurd "Okeley Dokeley!" Indeed, OK became emblematic of a uniquely American attitude, and is one of our most successful global exports. Anyone who loves the life of words or the quirky corners of American culture will find this delightful book more than just OK.
Publisher: Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, c2010
ISBN: 9780195377934
Branch Call Number: 427.973 MET
Characteristics: xii, 210 p. ; 19 cm


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

There are no comments for this title yet.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Subject Headings

No similar edition of this title was found at RPL.

Try searching for OK to see if RPL owns related versions of the work.

Suggest for Purchase

To Top