OK vs. Okay

Okay and OK (even O.K.) have the same meaning and usage that show approval, agreement, or “all right.” Furthermore, they are both correct and interchangeable spellings of the word. Also, there is no difference at all.

They have many uses, such as interjection, adjective, adverb, verb, and noun. As an adjective and adverb, it means acceptable or good. When used as an interjection and noun, it shows approval or agreement. As a verb, it means to agree or approve.

History of OK and Okay

The first use of “O.K.” was from a Boston newspaper editor’s humor attempt and went viral in 1839. Additionally, Allen Walker Read, an American linguist, was behind the word’s etymology.

Editor Charles Gordon Greene of the Boston Morning Post tried delivering humor on Providence Journal by inserting the abbreviation “o.k” at the end of a paragraph. The “ok” was the intended shortening of “oll korrect,” a humorous misspelling of the words “all correct.” But, rather than making people laugh, the supposed joke now became a part of the American vocabulary.

Since the 1840s, “OK” has been around while “okay” appeared a few decades later. Both words mean the same thing.

When to Use OK and Okay

The following uses are both appropriate for OK and Okay:

OK and Okay as an Interjection

Note: an interjection is a short word or phrase that shows an abrupt remark.

Expressing approval or agreement


OK, if that’s what you want.

‘Can I invite my friends today?’ ‘Okay.’

OK, let’s get this one.

Asking someone’s approval or agreement


I’ll meet you at the cafe, okay?

I’ll do this later, OK?

I’ll get this one item, okay?

Changing topic or closing a conversation


Okay, group yourselves into four now.

OK, let’s continue this tomorrow. Bye.

Okay, any questions so far.

Telling someone to stop arguing with you


Listen, it’s for the benefit of everyone, okay?

OK, I made a mistake. I know.

I’m doing my best, OK?

OK and Okay as an Adjective

Expressing that something is acceptable


‘Sorry to keep you waiting.’ ‘It’s OK, no problem.’

Is it OK if I stay here for a while?

‘My room is messy.’ ‘It is okay with me.’

Describing someone who’s not injured


He got minor wounds. He’s okay.

I’m feeling OK now, don’t worry.

Is she okay?

Showing that something won’t be a problem


Your clothes are okay. It’s not a problem.

If you arrive late, it’s OK.

You made some mistakes but it’s okay.


OK and Okay as an Adverb

Expressing satisfaction


I did not enjoy the performance. It’s just OK.

My Internet connection is not so good, but it’s working okay.

‘How was the film?’ ‘It was okay, but not brilliant.’

OK and Okay as a Verb

Expressing agreement or approval


She okayed the proposal. Let’s do it.

Random inspection has been OK’d for public transport drivers.

The final revisions have been okayed by the client.

OK and Okay as a Noun

Showing approval


We need the leader’s OK before doing the work.

Her okay is a bit indirect.

The customer gave her okay.

Describing someone who’s nice or pleasant


I met him today. He was an OK guy.

Jared’s OK. You are safe with him.

She is kind. She’s okay.

Conclusion: Which One is Correct?

Remember, OK and Okay mean the same thing. There are no differences between them. OK is an English word expressing approval, acknowledgment, or indifference. Cure writer’s block by remembering OK and Okay are both OK, okay?


Bilis, M. (2017, March 23). Throwback Thursday: When the Word “OK” Was Invented in Boston: Boston Magazine. https://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/2017/03/23/boston-morning-post-ok/

Cambridge Dictionary (n.d.). OK. In https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/ dictionary. Retrieved February 10, 2022, from https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/grammar/british-grammar/okay-ok

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English Online  (n.d.). OK. In https://www.ldoceonline.com/ dictionary. Retrieved February 10, 2022, from https://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/ok

Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). OK. In Merriam-Webster.com dictionary. Retrieved February 10, 2022, from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/OK