Word Confusion: Okay

Posted March 3, 2014 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

I always run across this word confusion when I’m editing someone’s work. In fact, I usually run a Find/Replace macro to quickly fix ’em.

And, shockingly enough, there are all sorts of rules about okay, and the easiest way for you to cope with them is simply to always spell it out, okay?


One of the essentials of writing is to maintain a consistency…and yes, this could backfire on you if you are writing dialect and some of your characters say okay differently from the others. That will be your problem and your editor/copyeditor/proofreader’s — do indicate this dialectical switch on your style guide and save yourself and your editor a load of frustration!

Use that Auto-Correct

Consider creating an Auto-Correct replacement in your word processing software (so your word choice/spelling is consistent), so you don’t have to remember from page to page, chapter to chapter, which version you are using. Be sure to indicate your preference (about using one of the acceptable versions) in the style guide you send along with your manuscript to whoever is editing your work.

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

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Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Crystal
Part of Grammar:
Adjective; Adverb; Exclamation; Noun; Verb
Satisfactory, but not exceptionally or especially good

In a satisfactory manner or to a satisfactory extent

Expresses assent, agreement, or acceptance.

When used as an exclamation, always separate any variation of “OK” from the following text with a comma.

Authorization or approval

Sanction or give approval to

Acceptable Versions Unacceptable Versions
kay, ‘kay

Alternative English Spelling:

Per Television Shows:

  • okie dokie (Little Rascals)
  • okely dokely, okely-dokely do (Ned Flanders from The Simpsons)
  • m’kay (Mr. Mackey in South Park)

Instant Messaging:
k, kk

OK’s, OK’d, OK’ing

The food was okay.

Are you okay?

I’m not sure if it’s OK?

The computer continues to work okay.

OK, OK, I give in.

[Introduce an utterance] “OK, let’s go.”

When will they give us the okay?

He’s OK’ing that now.

History of the Word:
First recorded in 1839 from oll korrect, a.k.a., all correct, as used “in a Boston newspaper … as part of a vogue for humorous respellings” (Crystal, 223).

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves?

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Pinterest Photo Credits:

The “Ok sign by Apnoist wolfram neugebauer is licensed under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts and the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license, via Wikimedia Commons.

Sky with puffy clouds really” by Imageman~commonswiki (it is assumed based on copyright claims) who states that “I, the copyright holder of this work, release this work into the public domain. This applies worldwide. In some countries this may not be legally possible; if so: I grant anyone the right to use this work for any purpose, without any conditions, unless such conditions are required by law.”