copacetic

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English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Unknown. Many theories exist, all of which lack supporting evidence:[1]

  • That the term originated among African Americans in the Southern US in the early 20th century or late 19th century—perhaps specifically in the jargon of Bill "Bojangles" Robinson (who certainly popularized it, in any case).[2]
  • That it derives from Cajun French coup esètique / coupersètique (capable of being coped with successfully; able to cope with anything and everything).[3]
  • That it derives from a word *copasetti used by Italian speakers in New York.[3]
  • That it derives from Chinook Jargon copasenee (everything is satisfactory)[4] — if the Chinook Jargon term is not itself derived from English.[5]

The common suggestion that the term derives from Hebrew הכל בסדר (hakól b'séder, everything is in order) has been rejected, as has the fanciful suggestion that it derives from criminals' observation that they could go about their business because "the cop is on the settee".[6]

Pronunciation[edit]

Adjective[edit]

copacetic (comparative more copacetic, superlative most copacetic)

  1. (US) Fine, excellent, OK.
    • 1919, Irving Bacheller, A man for the ages: a story of the builders of democracy[1], page 69:
      ...an' as to looks I'd call him, as ye might say, real copasetic." Mrs. Lukins expressed this opinion solemnly and with a slight cough. Its last word stood for nothing more than an indefinite depth of meaning.
    • 1919, Irving Bacheller, A man for the ages: a story of the builders of democracy[2], page 287:
      There was one other word in her lexicon which was in the nature of a jewel to be used only on special occasions. It was the word "copasetic".

Translations[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ copacetic” in Dictionary.com Unabridged, v1.0.1, Lexico Publishing Group, 2006.
  2. ^ Mark Knowles, Tap Roots: The Early History of Tap Dancing (ISBN 0786412674), page 239
  3. 3.0 3.1 this theory is mentioned by David L Gold, Studies in Etymology and Etiology, pages 60-61; he views it with skepticism
  4. ^ Donald L. Martin makes this suggestion, which can be found in e.g. Cassell's Dictionary of Slang (2005)
  5. ^ David L Gold writes of the suggestion that the English term derives from Chinook Jargon: "If that explanation is right, we expect the English word to have first been used somewhere from Alaska to Oregon (the area where Chinook Jargon was spoken). No evidence available to me, however, points in that direction. Might the Chinook Jargon word actually be a reflex of American English copacetic (in whatever spelling)?"
  6. ^ David L Gold, Studies in Etymology and Etiology, pages 60-61