HEDTK

My current favorite nerdy distraction: trying to figure out exactly the etymology of the acronym TK. Chicago‘s online Q & A quotes a dictionary of abbreviations as saying that it stands for “to kum” and is “a printer’s expression.” But does that mean it originated as a misspelling? And if so, a purposeful one? Were these printers trying to be funny? I’ve always assumed that it was a way of making sure the acronym was distinct in a manuscript from TC meaning table of contents, much the way I’ve always assumed the K in CMYK stands for black to distinguish it from blue. It’s kind of a difficult thing to Google, since TK is both a TLD and has something to do with WYSIWYG. (And further complicating matters, it seems to be an abbreviation of the Dutch word “toekomst” meaning “future.” So does that mean everyone who used to work in publishing used to be Dutch? Or vacationed on the tiny island nation of Tokelau?) Further complicating matters, the OED says that “kum” is an obsolete form of the word “come.” But if I’m reading this right—and I’m probably not—it’s been obsolete from since before the invention of the printing press. So was TK how the protojournalists and ur-editors of our distant past consoled one another around the hearth, as they drank mead, and told stories, and didn’t worry about fact-checking, and dreamed of the dawn of print, TK?