[somebody] rule/rules OK


Senior Member
Catalan, Spain
I was aware of the expression "somebody rules", but now I've come across a slightly different construct: "somebody rules OK". See this picture, for instance. What does the OK mean? Is this a UK / Ireland thing?

Moderator's note: The picture shows graffiti on a wall in Belfast: "Shankill rule OK".
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  • Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    I believe this formula does originate in the UK (possibly in reference to gangs in Glasgow, Scotland). The OED says: "used orig. in wall graffiti to affirm the superiority of a gang, football team, etc."

    I would say that in your picture, the usage is close to the original meaning, as it refers to a group or community being in control or dominating, and appears as graffiti.

    It's now also used, in addition to the original sense of some group being in charge or controlling something, to indicate that something is good or superior.


    Senior Member
    Irish & English

    To be honest the 'ok' here sounds a bit strange to me. I see it has reference to sectarianism in Belfast, Northern Ireland (where there are conflicts between Catholic and Protestant regions). In this statement ''Shankill rules ok'' the ok just emphasises that this area/people of this area only have one set of rules and thats final, in a sense saying these are the rules and thats that, they will not accept any other rules from any other group/community. It is a starnge way to use ok but it is just emphasising they are not willing to negotiate, there are only one set of rules, that kind of an idea. Hope that helps somewhat ;)


    Senior Member
    English - United Kingdom
    It is quite often used metaphorically. If some-one has done something exceptionally stupid they may say "idiocy rules ok". If one has written something wrongly one may even say "dyslexia lures ok"


    Senior Member
    Catalan, Spain
    Thanks for your comments.
    I've found this blog post that features a video of graffiti in Dundee.
    Some say "<GANG NAME> rule OK", and other without the "rule", simply "<GANG NAME> OK". Interesting... the OK appears without a question mark, but I've seen it in other places with a question mark: "Somebody rules, OK?" If all had a question mark, it would make sense, it's just like a rhetorical question. However, without the question mark I find it very curious.
    English - Scots
    ... people of this area only have one set of rules and thats final ...
    Interesting choice of meaning - 'rules' as a plural noun - 'no drug dealing' etc.

    Maybe that's an Irish regional thing ?
    I'm from the north of Scotland, and always read 'rules' as a verb - sovereignty, 'has dominion'.

    Particularly in a gang context, 'OK' is intimidating, coercing your opponent into assenting to your viewpoint.
    Like 'You get me?' or 'Is that clear?' or 'Is that understood?' - said with the vocal tone of a teacher to a naughty child.
    Definitely not in the polite, tentative sense of 'if that's alright with you?' - this isn't Canada !

    Reminds me that the initial proposed SNP question for a devolution referendum was
    "Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?"
    which the Electoral Commission rejected as biased.
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    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I'm from the north of Scotland, and always read 'rules' as a verb - sovereignty, 'has dominion'.
    Welcome to the Forum, OnlyMeAgain!

    That's how I've always understood the formula. The version with the punctuation makes it clearer (Haggis rules, OK!): And this is how the Urban Dictionary represents it:
    Rules, OK?
    A slang phrase appended to a word (usually a noun), to form a rhetorical question, which denotes superiority (ie. so-and-so Rules, OK?) It sometimes appears without a comma or question mark, but always appears with the informal "ok" as opposed to "okay". The phrase's first recorded use was in 1975, but it is rumored to have originated as early as the 1930's among the Glasgow "Razor Gangs". Rival gangs were known to tag each other's turf with "(gang name) Rules, Ok?" during disputes over territory as a part of gang warfare.
    Actual Examples:
    Dandys Rule, OK?