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Posted: 10/18/2004 5:45:21 AM EST
[Last Edit: 10/18/2004 6:06:30 AM EST by Rodent]
I'm always curious about the words and phrases we use without knowing what they really mean. Don't know if this is valid or not, but I was just told that during WWI, casualty reports would be yelled from trench to trench. "Five K" meant five killed. "Okay" meant zero killed.

Old favorites: "Free Lance" - a knight who worked for hire instead of for a specific lord. "Letting the cat out of the bag" - Getting in trouble on a sailing ship. The cat-o-nine-tails was kept in a leather bag.
Link Posted: 10/18/2004 5:54:03 AM EST
[Last Edit: 10/18/2004 5:55:56 AM EST by Daytona955i]

Originally Posted By Rodent:
I'm always curious about the words and phrases we use without knowing what they really mean. Don't know if this is valid or not, but I was just told that during WWI, casualty reports would be yelled from trench to trench. "Five K" meant five killed. "Okay" meant zero killed.

Old favorites: "Free Lance" - a knight who worked for hire instead of to a specific lord. "Letting the cat out of the bag" - Getting in trouble on a sailing ship. The cat-o-nine-tails was kept in a leather bag.



I always thought that letting the cat out of the bag was a term for when back in the day at the market you would choose an animal that you would eat later, but you buy it live, so they throw it in a burlap bag or something like that and you take it home, but some sneaky street vendors would swap the bag or something and put a cat in it?

I've heard some good ones too, I don't really know how true they are, but it's still rather funny. GOLF = Gentleman Only, Ladies Forbidden, and another one is Fornication Under the Consent of the King.
Link Posted: 10/18/2004 5:57:12 AM EST
[Last Edit: 10/18/2004 6:02:58 AM EST by Wolf_Warrior]
This seems to sum up the dispute over the origin of the word. It is clear, however, that it is older than WWI.

www.free-definition.com/Okay.html

Wolf

Link Posted: 10/18/2004 5:59:50 AM EST
[Last Edit: 10/18/2004 6:00:56 AM EST by DOW]
I read a while back that "OK" came from Mark Twain - an acronym for the intentional misspelling of "All Correct". This ring a bell for anyone?

Edit: Wolf Warrior got it right. Not Mark Twain, but close.
Link Posted: 10/18/2004 6:02:27 AM EST

Originally Posted By Daytona955i:

Originally Posted By Rodent:
I'm always curious about the words and phrases we use without knowing what they really mean. Don't know if this is valid or not, but I was just told that during WWI, casualty reports would be yelled from trench to trench. "Five K" meant five killed. "Okay" meant zero killed.

Old favorites: "Free Lance" - a knight who worked for hire instead of to a specific lord. "Letting the cat out of the bag" - Getting in trouble on a sailing ship. The cat-o-nine-tails was kept in a leather bag.



I always thought that letting the cat out of the bag was a term for when back in the day at the market you would choose an animal that you would eat later, but you buy it live, so they throw it in a burlap bag or something like that and you take it home, but some sneaky street vendors would swap the bag or something and put a cat in it?

I've heard some good ones too, I don't really know how true they are, but it's still rather funny. GOLF = Gentleman Only, Ladies Forbidden, and another one is Fornication Under the Consent of the King.



One pretty safe rule of thumb is that if the supposed origins of a word that predates the 20th century is an acronym - odds are it's bullshit. Acronyms were rarely used before the 1900s.

FUCK is easier to debunk than that, since variation of the word can be traced through old english and even to German - thus clearly not an acronym based on modern english.
Link Posted: 10/18/2004 6:14:10 AM EST
I remember reading that it's an old West African word the slaves used.
Link Posted: 10/18/2004 6:17:17 AM EST

Originally Posted By DOW:
I read a while back that "OK" came from Mark Twain - an acronym for the intentional misspelling of "All Correct". This ring a bell for anyone?

Edit: Wolf Warrior got it right. Not Mark Twain, but close.



OK is short for "Old Kinderhook", the nickname of a president in the 1800's (maybe Tyler). It becamea campaign slogan "Old Kinderhook is alright!" which became shortened to "OK is alright". OK then became synonymous to "alright".
Link Posted: 10/18/2004 6:24:54 AM EST
From www.dictionary.com:

Word History: OK is a quintessentially American term that has spread from English to many other languages. Its origin was the subject of scholarly debate for many years until Allen Walker Read showed that OK is based on a joke of sorts. OK is first recorded in 1839 but was probably in circulation before that date. During the 1830s there was a humoristic fashion in Boston newspapers to reduce a phrase to initials and supply an explanation in parentheses. Sometimes the abbreviations were misspelled to add to the humor. OK was used in March 1839 as an abbreviation for all correct, the joke being that neither the O nor the K was correct. Originally spelled with periods, this term outlived most similar abbreviations owing to its use in President Martin Van Buren's 1840 campaign for reelection. Because he was born in Kinderhook, New York, Van Buren was nicknamed Old Kinderhook, and the abbreviation proved eminently suitable for political slogans. That same year, an editorial referring to the receipt of a pin with the slogan O.K. had this comment: “frightful letters... significant of the birth-place of Martin Van Buren, old Kinderhook, as also the rallying word of the Democracy of the late election, ‘all correct’.... Those who wear them should bear in mind that it will require their most strenuous exertions... to make all things O.K.”
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