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Re: Copacetic

Posted by Smokey Stover on January 13, 2005

In Reply to: Re: Copacetic posted by ESC on January 12, 2005

: : : : I have heard this phrase used over the years in lofty, whimsical exchanges and I am familiar with the intended meaning; however, I am unable to find an etymology for 'copasetic' or its other spellings. Is this a relatively new word and phrase?

: : : : SR

: : : A few sources have the word originating in the early 20th Century, from the jazz and bebop hipster era.

: : We've got the first word covering. From Merriam-Webster online:

: : Main Entry: sa·lu·bri·ous
: : Pronunciation: s&-'lü-brE-&s
: : Function: adjective
: : Etymology: Latin salubris; akin to salvus safe, healthy -- more at SAFE
: : : favorable to or promoting health or well-being

: "Flappers 2 Rappers: American Youth Slang" by Tom Dalzell (Merriam-Webster Inc., Springfield, Md., 1996) says that copacetic is a Flapper term from the 1920s. No origin listed.

Copacetic: fine, excellent, going just right. This definition, from the OED, is also used in World Wide Words, which has a substantial article on the word. The origin is unknown and the spellings various. The word was current during most of the 20th century in the U.S. (1st OED citation 1919), its only home, and is still occasionally heard today. It was once a sort of fad word, as a "jazzy" and "now" expression, probably because of one or two popular movies where it was said. I'm not sure that the above definition is not too confining. I've heard it used in an expression like "That's copacetic" to mean something similar to today's fad slang, "I'm cool with that." SS