23 March 1839 the initials “O.K.” was first published in The Boston Morning Post as part of a joke. This was meant as an abbreviation of “oll korrect”, a misspelt slang of all correct. In 1830 educated young circles used to misspell words intentionally.
OK was in limelight when it got published and it was picked up by contemporary politicians. In 1840, during the US presidential election OK stood for “Old Kinderhook”. It was the nickname of Democratic president and candidate Martin Van Buren, a native of Kinderhook, New York. The Democratic supporters organized a band to influence voters. This group was formally called the “O.K. Club,” which referred both to Van Buren’s nickname “Old Kinderhook”. At the same time, the opposing Whig Party made use of “OK” to denigrate Van Buren’s political mentor Andrew Jackson. They said “OK” to cover up Jackson’s misspelling of “all correct.”
The mystery behind “OK” was unravelled by an American linguist named Allen Walker Read. He dispelled erroneous theories on the origins of “OK.”.
“OK” became one of the most popular terms in the world, and one of America’s greatest lingual exports.