History of the OK Button

Our old friend, the OK Button, has gone through a few visual tweaks in the last twenty years of Windows:

This is a companion discussion topic for the original blog entry at: http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2006/03/history-of-the-ok-button.html

So the real question now is: when can I have an “m’kay” button?

It’s interesting how only one of them doesn’t have rounded corners. Okay, not that interesting…shuddup.

My favorite etymology - for which I have no evidence whatsoever - is that Henry Ford’s chief inspector was named Ole Knudsen. Upon final inspection of a car leaving the line, he would initial O.K. on the car’s paperwork, signifying that it was ready for delivery to a customer.

For some reason I think this one’s more than okay.

I find it interesting the way you describe “OK” as an “abbreviated form of ‘okay’”!

I don’t think I’ve seen “okay” used outside of US English. Certainly I would consider “okay” to be a derivative of “OK” - not the other way around.

Oh, just to clarify, “Okay, not that interesting” was referring to my comment, not the post. Just read it back and realised it was ambiguous. lol.
Okay is UK English too. I know my dad often jokes that I not only abreviate Okay to OK, but also OK to K in texts.

[the Greek Olla Kalla explanation] really makes sense to me

I agree, but I think we would have seen OK in print long before ~1830 if this was the case!

On the Mac, the OK button was originally intended to read, “Do It”, but in the Chicago font that looked too much like “Dolt”. So we have OK.

And all this time I thought it was just the abbreviation for Oklahoma. (Oscar Hammerstein II: “Oklahoma, OK!”)


I always found that etymology dubious, but AHD confirms, and I trust them rather more than I do Wikipedia.

Like the word “taxi,” the word “OK” is one of the most internationally recognized words. If people know 6 words of English, almost certainly “OK” will be one of them.

Mt Greek friends insist on the explanation that it’s a casual acronym for Olla Kalla, or All Good. Of all the conjecture, this one really makes sense to me.

I think that makes okay the onomatopoeia of “ok” rather than ok being the abbreviation of okay.

I suspect that is makes a-ok highly redundant.

I’ve heard in Spain several times that the word comes from your civil war.

When a patrol was coming back to the base camp they used to do with hands the O and the K that meant 0 Kills, so it was linked to everything is right.

Don’t know if you heard that in USA …

For a reliable source on word and phrase origins, check this site first :


Late to this party, but there was an old Infocom game (The Witness)where the “narrator’s voice” for want of a better term, spelled it “Okeh”; plus there exists Okeh Records. That always looked better to my eyes than “okay”