You can’t do without English abbreviations in German either. OK is not just such a popular abbreviation among young people. It stands for “okay”, that much is clear, and means “everything is fine”. But the spelling is tricky – large or small, with abbreviation periods or without? The origin of this term is also disputed.
OK – origin and meaning of the word
Whether in America, Africa or Germany : according to abbreviationfinder, the word “okay” is used everywhere today in the sense of “everything in order”. But where does the term come from? There are various explanations for this.
- Linguists agree that the term “okay” comes from American English and stands for the abbreviation “OK” or “ok”. According to the English pronunciation “kay” for the letter “K” the word “okay” came from it.
- When and in what context the abbreviation was first used is controversial. A common thesis is that the abbreviation is based on the spelling mistake made by the German-born American General Wilhelm von Steuben. At the end of the 18th century, during the American War of Independence, he allegedly added the term “oll correct” to his correspondence – meaning “all correct”. According to legend, the American military adopted this term and soon made it the abbreviation “ok”.
- Another thesis also comes from the military field. Accordingly, the abbreviation “OK” in the soldiers’ language stands for “Order Known” (“Order heard and understood”).
- During the presidential election campaign in the USA in 1840, the abbreviation was on everyone’s lips. After his birthplace, the small American town of Kinderhook, the candidate Martin Van Buren was nicknamed “Old Kinderhook”. At that time, his followers founded the “OK Club” and coined the catchy slogan “OK is ok”.
Correct spelling in German
The spellings are as different as the theories on the origin of the word “okay” and its abbreviation.
- In English, the abbreviation “OK” is written with two capital letters and without abbreviation periods. However, this was not always the case. Up until the 20th century, two abbreviation dots were added and the letters were sometimes written in upper case and sometimes in lower case. In recent decades, the spelling known today has prevailed – following the trend in the English language to dispense with abbreviation dots as well as in the form of address “Mr” (“Mr.”) and “Mrs” (“Mrs.”). In English, the word is always written out in lower case, except at the beginning of a sentence.
- The term was first included in the German spelling dictionary in 1954 – at that time only as a capitalized noun “Okay” and in the abbreviation with dots (“OK”). It was not until 1967 that the lower case spelling was added to reflect that the word is also used as an adverb.
- This rule still applies today. As a noun, the term is capitalized and otherwise used neuterly. So it says: “The boss gave me his okay / his OK”. When used as an adverb (circumstance word), write the term in lower case: “It’s all okay / ok” or: “The boy is really okay / ok”
- Abbreviation dots are always set in German when the term is used in abbreviated form!
- However, you must remember that language is a living construct. The spelling rules also take into account the usual language usage in the language area – and this in turn is often influenced by other languages, especially English. So it’s quite possible that the Duden editors will at some point recognize the English spelling without abbreviation dots and then also say in German: “That’s perfectly ok.”
It is best to do without the abbreviation and always write out the word – then the question of setting the abbreviation dots is superfluous and the word is not much longer either.