ko-pê-set-ik • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: Absolutely comfortable, at ease, in a fine relationship or with a fine attitude.
Notes: Today's Good Word is another gift from the world of jazz. It was popularized by the dancer Bill "Bojangles" Robinson (1878-1949), the inspiration of the Jerry Jeff Walker song popularized by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Bob Dylan in the 70s, "Mr. Bojangles". The adverb copacetically is occasionally encountered but few, indeed, have dared to utter the noun, copaceticity. We prefer our spelling of copacetic to another you are likely to bump into, copasetic.
In Play: If you ever need to describe a relationship where OK is too weak but excellent is too strong, you can call copacetic to the rescue: "Things at the office were less than copacetic for Brandon after he accidentally sent his e-mail critique of the boss to everyone in the company." This word can come very close to the meaning of congenial since it generally refers to attitudes and relations: "Since Angelina's mother moved out of their apartment, Thurston and Angelina's life together has become much more copacetic."
Word History: Today's word entered the language around 1919 among black jazz musicians, but its exact etymology is unknown. Various sources have suggested that it originated from an African word in southern US Black English (Latinized for kicks), from the Yiddish phrase kol b'tzedek "all with justice," the Creole French word coupersètique "able to cope with things," and from a Chinook word meaning, "everything is satisfactory"—copasenee. No one has produced credible evidence for any of these etymologies, though. (John Hall always suggests very copacetic words for our Good Word series; this one is no exception.)
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