Ok is just one of those words. As a kid our headteacher would give you an automatic detention for saying it. It was a banned word along with Punk, Booze, Ciggy, Damm, T**t, F*** ………. I think it was not seen as proper English. Strange as it was a school in Yorkshire and we could say words like Wazak, Jiggered and Chuffin Heck.

Now I have a problem with ok. It’s a twofold issue

  • It’s too easy when someone asks how you are to just say “OK”. It almost becomes automatic. What does it mean really.
  • When I ask after somebody’s wellbeing I often say “Are you Ok” or “Hope your Ok”.

Hope your ok…..

The more I think about it the worse that sounds. First of all are you ok. It sounds like I’m hoping someone is basically average, somewhere between wonderful and sh**e. It’s hardly the same as saying are you great, spectacular or wonderful. Basically setting a pretty low expectations bar. Don’t get me wrong we all feel just average somedays. It’s not as good as being happy but way better than being like sh*t. It would be nice if we were all happy some of the time.

Are you ok…..

You are often talking with people who have suffered or are suffering so much pain. Depression, Grief, Loneliness, Despair, Hardship, Physical Pain. Are you ok sounds such a trite way of asking after someone’s wellbeing. Well of course they are not OK.

It’s just a personal thing but I am going to try and find more suitable alternatives to Ok. Maybe they don’t always exist but it’s worth a try. Recently when people have asked how I am I’ve started trying to say Distinctly Average rather than ok. It’s actually feels like a good summary of my usual mood. It certainly feels a more meaningful response than OK. But I will definitely promise that when someone does take the time to ask how I feel I will be honest. Hopefully no more bland OKs.

Asking after someone’s wellbeing is proving more difficult. It’s definitely still a work in progress. Maybe How are you doing is the way to go. What about How are you feeling. Actually it’s probably the follow up question which is the key. We shall see. I’m going to have a good ponder about this. I hope that’s ok with you.

101 thoughts on “Ok

  1. I generally use “Okay” to mean “Distinctly average.” Of course, lately I just say, “Pregnant,” ’cause that seems to cover it all…

    Liked by 3 people

      1. 😀 I often try variations of “Okay” to see if they’re listening. I think your responding with “Pregnant” would definitely be a good test of their attentiveness.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. I think “How YOU doin’?” has been ruined as a form of serious enquiry, ‘specially if you wink and point your index finger at the same time!

    I always ask ‘Are you ok? if there is a strong suspicion the answer should be ”No.”

    I always thought (and the etymology tends to support me) that OK stood for ‘all correct’ or ‘all (is) right’. Seems it started in the US around 1830 when it was popular to use acronyms that involved terrible spelling. O. K. was for ‘Oll Korrect’, N. G. was for ‘Know (No) Go’! etc.

    So it does not mean average or so-so so you don’t have to feel bad asking it of someone. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. As a few previous replies have pointed out, I think “OK” gets used when people know the person they’re talking to is likely ill or dealing with issues, etc… Doing great? is a bit insensitive to ask a widow at a funeral after all. 🙂

    No doubt language has gotten sloppy over time though. Read any of the great thinkers from the 1700s and 1800s and it’s amazing how clearly they could communicate a point.

    Also amusing how every group of teachers has a pet banned word like that. It was “alot” for most of my teachers. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I like to use phrases like ‘how’s it going?’ Or ‘how are things?’ Or ‘what’s new?’ All of them are open ended questions which recognise from the start some possible insight that the person you are talking to might be having a shit time but allows them either to focus on that or to talk about less shit things. It also cuts out the possibility of a ‘yes/no’ answer.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. YES

    Hmm….I think I resort to using ok when I actually mean “don’t ask me today, tears are not far away”.

    But when I am not feeling that way I make the effort to tell people I am feeling great, I am loving the weather, I am looking forward to the weekend etc.

    That way I can use ok on bad days.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I haven’t thought about Ok before. Now I am going to be more aware of my words. Sometimes I ask the kids if they are ok after they hurt themselves – but I don’t think I will use it anymore when I am asking after ones well being. Good point!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. You definitely raise a good point and I will probably hesitate to ask for just an Ok from someone anymore. Looking for and being there for an honest reply is important. That is one of your super powers 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi, it seems to me that ‘are you ok?’ is a closed question, seemingly requiring just a yes or no answer. To expand, the speaker needs to launch into a new conversation. ‘How are you?’, by its nature, invites a proper answer. The speaker can choose to shut the conversation by just saying ‘OK’ but can also give a deeper answer if they’re in the mood.
    What do you think?

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I always have to ask how people are doing at work and I usually get a variety of answers. My best are: It has been a good day so far, will have to see what the second half brings.
    I am not pushing up daisys.
    I am alive. (To both of these answers my response is Well thank goodness it would be a little disconcerting to be serving a Zombie.)
    Today’s response to I am alive: Well that is good news. I am not ready for the Zombie apocalypse yet.
    I am not sure where I am going with this lol other than giving you a few more answers to the question: How are you today?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. There is a saying in my part of the world (used mostly when it is going to rain) – “It’s looking black over Bill’s Mother’s!” I think that would be an apt response to a blah sort of mood. And the old George Formby saying – “It’s turned out nice again!” would be good for a better than average day.
    Seriously though, our quick question/answer greetings are designed to be blah, non-committal niceties used in place of silence when we really don’t want to know the complete truth. It is ‘hat tipping’ to be polite when it’s the last thing that we want to be.

    I have just made up my own response to ‘How are you?’
    “I am having a pessock (footl stamping day!” 😁

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I can relate to moments where it’s only small break in your day where you feel a moment of peace and then the rain comes. After I lost my daughter 18 months ago, I’ve asked myself if I will ever have joy again? For now, moments of brief peace are all I can feel.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Hmmm. Well, you can always go with what the kids have to do in school–feelings are zones now. The Green Zone = happy, Yellow Zone = scared, Red Zone = angry, Blue Zone = sad. So there are times when I ask the boys what zone they’re in, and if they don’t say the green zone I’ll ask how we can get back to the green zone.

    Might sound weird to a grown-up, though…

    Liked by 1 person

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