copacetic

adjective

co·​pa·​cet·​ic ˌkō-pə-ˈse-tik How to pronounce copacetic (audio)
variants or less commonly copasetic or copesetic
: very satisfactory
And his smile told him that everything was copacetic.Robert Bloch

Did you know?

If you’re living the life of Riley, strolling along easy street, or wallowing in hog heaven, your circumstances may be described as copacetic. A word of obscure origin, copacetic has for over a century satisfied those who’ve had a hankering to describe that which is hunky-dory or otherwise completely satisfactory. (If "of obscure origin" leaves you feeling less than copacetic, the note here will undoubtedly remedy that.) Life isn’t always beer and skittles, but when you do find yourself walking that primrose path, just remember: it’s all copacetic.

Examples of copacetic in a Sentence

don't worry, because I assure you that everything's copacetic
Recent Examples on the Web In an effort to keep things copacetic, the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, which works on the island, inked a partnership with Leave No Trace this summer, making Anna Maria the first destination in Florida to work with the nonprofit. Travel + Leisure Editors, Travel + Leisure, 16 Nov. 2023 But all was not copacetic, as Ross revealed this week in a flurry of X (formerly known as Twitter) posts and Instagram Live broadcasts. Seth Abramovitch, The Hollywood Reporter, 22 Sep. 2023 But the Bruins also rarely overthought its lineup configuration over the grind of an 82-game slate, especially in regards to a copacetic goalie rotation and a stout six-man defensive unit. Conor Ryan, BostonGlobe.com, 29 Apr. 2023 Rather than working towards a copacetic co-parenting relationship with the mother of his four kids, West is choosing violence, opting to take the offensive by claiming that Kardashian is attempting to isolate him from their family through the divorce. Ineye Komonibo, refinery29.com, 16 Mar. 2022 Martin’s assurances that everything is copacetic with House of the Dragon’s second season will likely come as a relief to some of the show’s fans. Charles Pulliam-Moore, The Verge, 8 May 2023 Alone in their suite, Jake moves in to kiss Rachel, but he’s suddenly gripped by a suspicion that all might not be entirely copacetic. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, 16 July 2021 Which seemed, at the time, copacetic. Arkansas Online, 25 June 2021 Things were not always copacetic. Mike Postalakis, SPIN, 25 May 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'copacetic.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

of obscure origin

Note: Copacetic (with many variant spellings) is probably better known for competing theories of its origin than for any record of unconscious everyday use in American English. The first written occurrence of the word thus far detected (as copasetic) is in A Man for the Ages (New York, 1919), a novel about the young Abraham Lincoln in rural Illinois by the journalist and fiction writer Irving Bacheller (1859-1950), born in northern New York state. In the book the word is used twice by a character named Mrs. Lukins, noted for her idiosyncratic speech. Bacheller emphasizes that this word and coralapus are her peculiar property: "For a long time the word 'coralapus' had been a prized possession of Mrs. Lukins …There was one other word in her lexicon which was in the nature of a jewel to be used only on special occasions. It was the word 'copasetic.' The best society of Salem Hill understood perfectly that it signaled an unusual depth of meaning" (pp. 286-87). While coralapus passes into oblivion after the novel, it is only the beginning for copasetic—though it is far from certain that Bacheller coined the word. Copasetic next appears in 1920, in the lyrics of a song, "At the New Jump Steady Ball," by the African American songwriters Tom Delaney (1889-1963) and Sidney Easton (1886-1971): "Copasetic was the password for all, At the new jump steady ball [a speakeasy]"; a performance of the song was the first issued recording by the singer Ethel Waters, in March, 1921 (see post and link to the song by Stephen Goranson at the website Language Log, March 3, 2017). This attestation begins a long association of the word with African American speech. It was used by the tap dancer Bill "Bojangles" Robinson (1877-1949) in radio broadcasts during the 1930's; Robinson claimed to have coined the word in an exchange of letters with the lexicographer Charles Earle Funke (see Funke's article "Bill Robinson's 'Copesetic'," American Speech, vol. 28 [1953], pp. 230-31, citing an earlier column by Funke and Frank Vizetelly in The Literary Digest, vol. 120, no. 20 [November 16, 1935], p. 3). Funke's American Speech article apparently inaugurates the tradition of searching outside English for the origin of copacetic. He cites a report by a correspondent from Milwaukee that the word comes from Louisiana French coupe-sètique; the correspondent even proffers its use in a couplet from "a charming old Acadian poem." Unfortunately, outside of this claim, such a word is not known to exist in any variety of French. The same absence of support vitiates other suggested sources, as Chinook Jargon copasenee (not actually attested in Chinook Jargon) and the putative Italian word copasetti produced by the novelist John O'Hara in a letter of December, 1934 (Selected Letters of John O'Hara, New York, 1978, p. 100). Most prominent in recent decades has been the hypothesis that copacetic is borrowed from Israeli Hebrew hakol beseder "all is in order" (in a transliteration from pointed spelling ha-kōl bĕ-sēdher), a calque on expressions in European languages (German "alles in Ordnung," Polish "wszystko w porządku," Russian "vsë v porjadke"). This etymology is thoroughly debunked by David Gold in "American English slang copacetic 'fine, all right' has no Hebrew, Yiddish, or other Jewish connection," Studies in Etymology and Etiology (Universidad de Alicante, 2009), pp. 57-76. The notion that an Israeli Hebrew expression not attested before the early 20th century—when a very small minority of the world's Jews, mostly in Palestine, actively spoke Hebrew—could be the source of copacetic is beyond improbable. Until more evidence appears the origin of copacetic remains obscure.

First Known Use

1919, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of copacetic was in 1919

Podcast

Dictionary Entries Near copacetic

Cite this Entry

“Copacetic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/copacetic. Accessed 26 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

copacetic

adjective
co·​pa·​cet·​ic
variants also copasetic or copesetic
ˌkō-pə-ˈset-ik
: very satisfactory
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!