. . . . . . . . .Hey, don’t sweat it, Everything’s Copacetic!


co·pa·cet·ic or co·pa·set·ic (kp-stk)

adj. Excellent; first-rate; completely satisfactory;

"his smile said that everything was copacetic";[Origin unknown].

Word History:

We know very little about the origin of the word copacetic, meaning "excellent, first-rate." Is its origin to be found in Italian, in the speech of southern Black people, in the Creole French dialect of Louisiana, or in Hebrew? John O'Hara, who used the word in Appointment in Samarra, later wrote that copacetic was "a Harlem and gangster corruption of an Italian word." O'Hara went on to say, "I don't know how to spell the Italian, but it's something like copacetti."

His uncertainty about how to spell the Italian is paralleled by uncertainty about how to spell copacetic itself. Copacetic has been recorded with the spellings copasetic, copasetty, copesetic, copisettic, and kopasettee. The spelling is now more or less fixed, however, as copacetic or copasetic, even though the origin of the word has not been determined.

The Harlem connection mentioned by O'Hara would seem more likely than the Italian, since copacetic was used by Black jazz musicians and is said to have been Southern slang in the late 19th century. If copacetic is Creole French in origin, it would also Southern homeland. According to this explanation, copacetic came from the Creole French word coupersètique, which meant "able to be coped with," "able to cope with anything and everything," "in good form," and also "having a healthy appetite or passion for life or love." Those who support the Hebrew or Yiddish origin copacetic do not necessarily deny the Southern connections of the word. One explanation has it that storekeepers used the Hebrew phrase ‘kol bes seddeq’, "all with justice," when asked if things were O.K. Black children who were in the store as customers or employees heard this phrase as copacetic.

No explanation of the origin of copacetic, including the ones discussed here, has won the approval of scholars, as is clearly shown by the etymology of copacetic in the first volume of the Dictionary of American Regional English, published in 1985: "Etym unknown."


"You had to be a good judge of what a man was like, and the English was copacetic"
John O'Hara

[syn: copasetic, copesetic, copesettic]

Source: WordNet ® 1.6, © 1997 Princeton University


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