I finished reading The Gangs of New York last night. It was thoroughly entertaining, and the movie is only loosely related to it, but I'm not going to review it here—it's not very deep, just fun.

But at the end it contained a "Rogue's Lexicon" compiled by a police inspector and published in 1859. Several of the terms had meanings that would still be understood today, while most were Greek to me. I found it curious, though, that "O.K." was defined. This would suggest that as late as 1859 the term was not widely understood.

We've all read about the various suggested origins of the term, and I won't repeat them here. I don't know which is true, and it seems like no one else does either. This Rogue's Lexicon would suggest, however feebly, that the word was a mostly lower-class phenomenon, probably not related very strongly to the "Old Kinderhook" legend.


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