The word “okay” is so versatile. Depending on how it is used in the sentence, or the tone of the speaker’s voice, it can be used to denote approval and agreement, or to indicate mediocrity. It can be used to enquire, confirm, describe or – with an elongated ‘kay – it can even convey scepticism or sarcasm. Public speakers use it to call the audience’s attention to the start of their speech. Regular texters are taking the term to the next level by just texting “K” to indicate agreement; the thin edge of an already slim wedge…
But where did the term come from?
It is said that the word “Okay” stems from the Greek words “Ola Kala” meaning “everything’s fine”. When Greek shipping dominated world trade two centuries ago, signalmen hoisted flags for ‘OK’ when they entered American ports, indicating to the shore crews everything was all right. On shore, warehousemen would find the Greek letters “O K” stamped on crates and boxes. Over time, the term “Okay” came to signify approval and agreement.
So, as long as two centuries ago, shipping companies were “getting the okay” – the clearance – to confirm the crates and boxes were present, correct and “good to go”.
The same requirement to check things over is true of today’s business writers with their blogs, newsletters and various marketing collateral. Do they seek “the okay” before their materials are exported into the public domain?
Proofreading is a very important part of writing. For business writers with good language skills, the services of a professional proofreader can ensure – and “give the okay” – signalling the final document is error-free, easy to read and “ready to ship”.