Posted by ESC on January 12, 2005

In Reply to: Salubrious and copecetic (copasetic, copacetic etc.) 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.

Another source says:

COPACETIC -- "satisfactory, 1933, with some later use meaning excellent. This word was popularized by the tap dancer Bill 'Bojangles' Robinson, who used it heavily in his vaudeville and stage appearances in the 1920s and 30s. Though the origin of the word is not certain, it could come from the Creole French 'coupersetique' (from Old French 'couper,' to strike), able to be done or coped with." From Listening to America: An Illustrated History of Words and Phrases from Our Lively and Splendid Past by Stuart Berg Flexner (Simon and Schuster, New York, 1982).