Printable Version
Pronunciation: ko-pê-set-ik Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Harmonious, in sync; groovy, cool, going well.

Notes: Today's Good Word is another contribution to US English from the world of jazz, also the source of cool as a term meaning "good, OK, in style". We prefer our spelling to the alternative, copasetic, which you may see elsewhere. We may use the adverb copacetically even though dictionaries haven't discovered it yet. I would avoid all potential nouns from this word: both copaceticity and copaceticness upset my spell-checker.

In Play: Copacetic implies relaxation, the absence of any tension, maybe even tranquility: "Everything is copacetic around the house when cool jazz is playing in the background." It is a cool word for "harmonious" in all its applications: "Yes, I would say that their filing for divorce would indicate that all is not copacetic in Bill and Jill's marriage."

Word History: If Bill "Bojangles" Robinson (1878-1949), the popular African American tap dancer, did not invent this word, he was certainly responsible for popularizing it. He used it throughout his half-century career in show business. Logical origins include the Hebrew (via Yiddish) phrase kol b'seder "everything is OK" and the Creole French word couperstique "able to cope with things", which musicians may have picked up in New Orleans. Someone has even suggested the highly unlikely Chinook word copasenee "everything is satisfactory". Chinook was a native American creole spoken in the area of Portland, Oregon. Bottom line: Bojangles apparently took the origin of this word to the grave with him. (Everything is copacetic at alphaDictionary when Eric Berntson suggests a marvelously Good Word like today's.)

Dr. Goodword,

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