The most recognized word in the world?


I remember reading once that the words “OK” and “Coke/Coca Cola” are the two most recognized terms in the world, regardless of languages. I read this in “The Beach” (1996). Yes, it is a fiction novel but a quick Google search seems to verify it and common knowledge can conclude that it is generally agreed on. The protagonist of this novel suggests the phrase “Game over” is recognized as universally as “OK” (because it is very commonly used in video games). I think “Game over” might not be a bad contender but it is not as well-recognized as “OK” and “Coke”. So the question is: Is it true that those two words are really the most recognized? What about “USA”, “America” or “Europe”? Is “Coca Cola” a more commonly recognized word than “America”?

I can think of some other global trademarks that may be as famous as “Coca Cola”. “McDonald’s”, “Microsoft”, “Apple”, “Sony”, “Mercedes Benz”… Hmmm, now that I listed them it seems they are not nearly as well-recognized as “Coke/Coca Cola” and I’m afraid “Pepsi” is out of the game as well. What about popular words that have come into use in the recent years? “Internet”, “Email” or “Windows”? Wait, which word is more widely recognized worldwide, “Windows” or “Microsoft”? Is there anyone who uses “Windows” not knowing it is a product of Microsoft? Some big names in the world of sports such as “Barcelona” or “Manchester United” perhaps? They can be interesting for certain demographics but no good when the whole humanity is concerned. (Interestingly, I have met a group of young kids in rural Indonesia who recognized the word “Chelsea” but didn’t know where or what “London” is. Indonesian word for “London” is “London”, incidentally. So Chelsea’s marketing in Indonesia has been going really well, apparently…)

Anyhow, I’m very certain that anyone who recognizes any of these words above knows the word “OK”. So which word could be more recognized universally than “OK”? What about “English”? Do people who recognize “OK” know that it is an “English” word? Do they recognize the word “English” as well as “OK”? Is it possible that there are people who recognize the word “English” but have no idea what “OK” means? I believe “OK” is more recognized than “Coke/Coca Cola” universally and attempted to come up with other words that could be a possible contender to “OK”. Here are my suggestions: “Hello”, “America”, “Islam” and “ball (as in football or basketball)”. Would you like to share your ideas?


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