When the nation was young, members of the Transcendental Generation (born 1792 to 1821) had a spiritual, authority-questioning bent. They brought transcendental into the general vocabulary. They also, writes Metcalf, “bequeathed to the country its greatest and most successful word”: OK. First used by a Boston newspaper editor as an intentionally misspelled jokey abbreviation of “all correct” -similar to the publishing industry’s term TK to indicate material “to come”- the expression took off during the 1840 re-election campaign of Martin Van Buren, who was also known as Old Kinderhook. His supporters set up OK clubs, jauntily suggesting he was “oll korrect.” Detractors quickly turned the new word around to criticize Van Buren (he’s “orfully konfused!”) and his predecessor Andrew Jackson (so illiterate he couldn’t spell all correct!). Eventually everyone forgot where OK came from, and it became an all-purpose staple.