Word Geek Column, June 29, 2011

WORD GEEK word of the week: copacetic

co pa cet ic

copacetic – excellent, fine, going just right, fine and dandy

Spell to Write and Read markings : co pa cet ic

When I met him last week, we discovered our mutual interests were copacetic.

According to both the Oxford English Dictionary and the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary, “copacetic” is considered American slang of unknown origin.  It appears to have come into the English language in 1919 and went through several spellings in the early part of the 20th century, among them “kopasetee”, “coppissettic”, and, finally, “copacetic”, as in modern dictionaries.

Linguists differ in the supposed origin of this word.  Some believe it originates from Latin, American Southern black dialects, or Louisiana French (from  the supposed term ‘coupe-sétique’).  Others in linguistics believe copacetic may have Yiddish roots (from the Hebrew term ‘kol b’seder’), or Native American.  There is still controversy as to its origins.  The only thing linguists agree on is that this began as an American term, possibly arising from early jazz culture.

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