Glasgow Razor Gangs Rule OK

Posted by Brian from Shawnee on December 10, 2004

In Reply to: Phrase Finder Rules OK - where, when, how? posted by Keith Rennie on December 03, 2004

: : : : Can also be "Phrase Finder Rules, OK?"

: : : : Where did this come from? Who was the original person who Ruled OK? Or did they rule U.K.? I've always wondered about that.

: : : Do you mean ending sentences with "...OK?" Like the school counselor Mr. Mackey on South Park "who has a very big head and ends virtually every sentence with his signature phrase, 'M'kay?'"

: : There's a specific construct I've seen many times, always like "[noun or person] rules OK", or sometimes with a comma and a question mark "[noun or person] rules, OK?" The most recent example is a headline of an article in the latest issue of The Economist "Primogeniture Rules, OK?" next to a photo of two siblings feuding over who should be in charge of their late father's multinational conglomerate.

: : I've seen this time and again. I thought it would be familiar enough to our friends across the pond.

: But how and when did it come about? my suggestion is from UK urban gang "turf" rivalries and flick knife wars of the 1950s where the practice was to mark your gang's territory with slogans painted on buildings with phrases like: "Red Blades rule OK?". Serious stuff in those days. Anybody predate that?

I came across a UK website featuring humorous graffiti, many of which contained variations on the phrase "Rule OK". I contacted the webmaster and he informed me that:

"the OED don't have any citations of printed uses of this prior to 1975 but include a reference to an acticle claiming it originated amongst the Glasgow "razor gangs" of the thirties."