Are you OK or okay?

If your finger hovers over the “a” key after writing “ok” then you’re not alone. Roy Blount from the New York Times recently puzzled over what the correct spelling was.

Blount traces the first use of okay back to a bad joke about mispelling:

“The first use of OK in print, in The Boston Morning Post of March 23, 1839, was a joke: “o.k. — all correct.” Such misspelling-based abbreviations were a fad. An earlier effort, "o.w.”, for “oll wright”, failed to catch on, whereas OK has gone globally viral."

Blount believes that “much of OK’s catchiness adheres in how much fun it is to say”. He rhapsodises over the way the word feels in your mouth. “O is round not only on the page but also within the mouth, and K is the side-of-the-tongue-on-palate click that signals a horse to go and also serves as an oral (often accompanied by an ocular) wink.”

But what’s the favoured spelling? News Limited’s Style Guide opts for OK noting “but (in quotes only) okayed”. The web sides with the capitalised initials with a search on Googlefight revealing just over 9 million “okay” to a staggering 54,200,000 “OK”. This may, however, be biased by the web’s need for brevity in tight character counts. Twitter, for example, is definitely no okay, but OK.

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