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Interesting Etymologies 1 : OK

Updated: Apr 27, 2022

Our new series on interesting etymologies starts with the history of OK and examines some false etymologies.

Charly takes us on a journey through language in our new short series on interesting etymologies.

The word "OK" has more origin stories than an average Hollywood superhero and we explore just some of them in this first episode.

From the misspelling of "All Correct" to adopting American Indian language or Zero Killed.

OK is an excellent introduction to false etymologies and we investigate further examples in this opening episode:

GOLF - Gentlemen Only, Ladies Forbidden

S.O.S - Save Our Souls

Cabal - Signatures on a letter to the King

We then look at the history of the V sign, back to the Hundred Years War. Many English teachers have told the tale of English (although they were more often Welsh than English) bowman (archers being a French word) demonstrating they still had their bow fingers. Charly digs deeper into this curious tale to reveal the truth after examining some primary sources (including contemporary chronicler Jean De Wavrin) and even give us a view of the first recorded example of the V sign on film from 1901. By the 1950s it seems this gesture had replaced thumbing your nose (cocking a snook) as a gesture of displeasure.

Explore the full Interesting Etymologies series archive here


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