On the use of "m'kay"

So, “m’kay”, I believe, originated in South Park. Its use, as far as I know, is basically identical to “okay” (and Urban Dictionary seems to agree, although other use include obscenities replacement).

However, here it seems to be “Okay”, but with a negative undertone. How come?

Please fight my ignorance!

I’ve seen it used in the context of sarcasm and patronising response. To me, in that context, it raises my hackles almost instantly. If someone want to say “Okay”, they will. “M’kay” just seems to be okay’s negative cousin. Probably comes for the original use as an emphasis to the statements in South Park – “Drugs are bad, m’kay?”

Maybe it’s due to my associating the “m’kay” version of “okay” with South Park that I have taken it to mean what “okay” means but with a nice tinge of sarcasm or talking down to whomever. If you’re familiar with Office Space (1999) then even though Lumbergh doesn’t quite say “m’kay” he does say “okay” as if he meant “m’kay.” It’s not like he’s wanting verification or acceptance of what he’s saying by uttering “m’kay” (or not) but just to rub in the idea he’s in a superior position and couldn’t care less if you agree or not. That’s the extra flavor of “m’kay” as I see it. As a haughty teacher would address a wayward student.

This is really more of GQ sort of thing, so off it goes.

It’s a condescension.

M’kay is a contraction of “hmmmmm” and “okay”. The “hmmmmm” is a pause while you’re trying to think of nice way to say why it’s not okay. You decide it’s best just to patronize and end up with a back-handed form of “okay”.

In the Leonidas Witherall series of mysteries written by Phoebe Atwood Taylor under the pseudonym of Alice Tilton, starting in the late 1930s, Leonidas always responds “m’yes” in place of yes. It’s not clear whether she uses it as a Boston accent or as a professorial thinking it over before agreeing. It’s certainly not condescending.

I don’t know how South Park uses its variation.

It’s frequently used by the appropriately named Mr. Mackey, the school guidance counselor, to indicate a statement that (in his opinion) is so obviously true that no disagreement is possible.

Exactly. It’s usually said or written in conjunection with a statement about something that would be blindingly obvious to anyone with even half a brain. Since the speaker thinks you don’t, he or she pairs the statement with “M’kay.”

“Better not mention Hitler in your post, m’kay?”

“Bush can’t run for a third term, m’kay?”

“Black people tend not to like it when you throw around the N-word, m’kay?”

It’s decades earlier than South Park. I had a couple teachers over the years, both guys that used mkay during class. I guess they found it too hard to say alright or okay. It doesn’t always mean a negative or begrudged ok. Usually it was just a lazy persons ok. Since South Park though it means fuck to most people that have watched it, and that’s more adults than haven’t. Blame Canada!

I agree that South Park popularized it, but did not invent it m’kay.

I heard it LONG before South Park, by several decades, possibly the '60s. For some reason I associate it with female comedians, like maybe Erma Bombeck or Fanny Flagg or one of Carol Burnett’s characters.

I didn’t think anybody else new about Erma Bombeck. She was one of my favorite authors, when I was in school. We lost a funny lady when she died. She was so close to having a transplant.

So, m’kay = okay + sarcasm + condescension. And, it’s much older than SP.

Thanks, everyone!

David Van Driessen (the hippy teacher from Beavis and Butthead) seemed to use it too, no? Or maybe he was a bit more of the bill Lumbherg variety.

I think I first heard m’kay on a SNL sketch with David Spade, along with another popularized saying… “mbuh-bye.” The sketch was about very unhelpful flight attendants.

Yes, I remember his use of it. It wasn’t condescending, but smarmy in his case.