Guest blogger

Allan Metcalf

Allan Metcalf is Professor of English at MacMurray College, Executive Secretary of the American Dialect Society, and the author of OK: The Improbable Story of America's Greatest Word, From Skedaddle to Selfie: Words of the Generations, and several other books.

Articles by Allan Metcalf

Louise Brooks was an American actress and dancer widely known as a 'flapper'.

And the Word of the Year 1915 is… flapper

True, as best we can tell, there was no actual selection of a Word of the Year a century ago. The modern phenomenon of choosing a Word of the Year began in 1990 with the American Dialect Society. The idea came from Time magazine’s choosing a Person of the Year each year, not by some […]


Okey-dokey! The story of the birth of OK’s playful grandchild

By the early twentieth century, OK was no longer a joke. The letters O and K did not prompt memories of the misspelled oll korrect, nor did they stimulate alternative explanations. In the nineteenth century, OK was recognized as a humorous abbreviation, but in the twentieth, it was understood merely as an arbitrary combination of […]


The elusive origin of OK

Epicures of etymologies could scarcely ask for a more delicious dish than OK. Yes, OK—America’s greatest contribution to the English language, and the most successful export from English to other languages around the world. By its looks and sound, OK is an odd concoction, with little resemblance to anything else in the language. And by […]