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Saturday, Dec 27, 2003
"In these articles Read reports on further
research undertaken after the 1941 article cited by the Funks (and then posted by Fromkin), showing that though the term first gained wide acceptance in the 1840 presidential election when it was taken over as an abbreviation for "Old Kinderhook", it actually originated in Boston as part of a craze
for comical abbreviations in 1838-39. This craze started in the summer of 1838, and Read documents it with dozens upon dozens of citations from the Boston press. The craze started with acronyms such as "O.F.M" for "Our First
Men" (a very popular phrase at the time), "N.G." for "No Go", "S.P." for "Small Potatoes", "G.T." for "Gone to Texas", and many more. The first printed use of "o.k." found by Read is in the Boston Morning Post of March 23, 1839, in which it is used in a humorous context and explicitly glossed as "all correct". This was part of a turn the acronym craze had taken toward using comical misspellings as the basis for the initials, including "K.G."for "no go" ("Know Go") and "K.Y." for "no use" ("Know Yuse"). This was undoubtedly done to increase the "in-group" status of the acronyms as they gained wider use, somewhat similar to the Cockney rhyming slang of today."