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Saturday, May 19, 2012

DISCOVERING THE PRESIDENTIAL ORIGIN OF ‘OK’ | Richard Lederer, San Diego Union-Tribune

Who woulda thunk? The ubiquitous word OK should be credited to a Democratic president!

According to Lederer's column, a university professor has tracked down the first-known published appearance of OK with its current meaning. And as the story goes, use of OK meaning “oll korrect” should be linked to the political nickname of the eighth U.S. president, Martin Van Buren: "Old Kinderhook."

Lederer writes:
Echoing the “oll korrect” initialism, OK became the rallying cry of the Old Kinderhook Club, a Democratic organization supporting Van Buren during the 1840 campaign. Thus, the accident of Van Buren’s birthplace rescued OK from the dustbin of history.
BTW, I just learned that Van Buren was a key organizer in launching the Democratic Party. He also was the first president born as a citizen of the United States. All earlier presidents were born before the American Revolution.

Also, given the silly hoopla about making English the official language of the United States, I find it interesting to learn, just now, that Van Buren spoke English as a second language. His native language was Dutch, as spoken by his Dutch-speaking parents and neighbors in Kinderhook, N.Y. 

Van Buren's great-great-great-grandfather had immigrated to North America in 1631. Looks like it took several generations for his family to finally adopt English as its first language.

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