co·​pa·​cet·​ic | \ ˌkō-pə-ˈse-tik How to pronounce copacetic (audio) \
variants: or less commonly copasetic or copesetic

Definition of copacetic

: very satisfactory And his smile told him that everything was copacetic.— Robert Bloch

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Examples of copacetic in a Sentence

don't worry, because I assure you that everything's copacetic
Recent Examples on the Web Meanwhile, in areas of the U.S. southeast that have long lived a copacetic existence with water, rising sea levels are creating more flooding from high-tides. Irina Ivanova, CBS News, "For homeowners, the cost of flooding is going through roof," 22 Feb. 2021 Since Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt announced their breakup in 2016, things haven't exactly been copacetic between the former spouses. Ineye Komonibo,, "Angelina Jolie Is Feeling Particularly “Hopeful” In The Aftermath Of Her Divorce From Brad Pitt," 2 Feb. 2021 It’s on Cash to keep it all copacetic, no easy task when the Rays’ extreme platooning can suppress both playing time and production that ultimately gets players paid. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, "'Best in the league'? Why Tampa Bay Rays are the perfect squad for MLB's 2020 season," 22 Sep. 2020 This doesn’t mean everything is copacetic for Biden. Jonah Goldberg, National Review, "Nostalgia Is the Ace up Biden’s Sleeve," 4 Dec. 2019 Not everything has been copacetic since the acquisition, however. Wired, "GitHub Finally Has Its Own Mobile Apps," 13 Nov. 2019 Herrick credits Chevy’s superior cooling system for keeping the engine cool and copacetic despite thinner air. Mark Phelan, Detroit Free Press, "2020 Chevy Silverado HD wins towing bragging rights over Ram, Ford," 25 June 2019 Sanders and Warren are among the more ideologically copacetic candidates on stage; though Warren is not a socialist like Sanders, her vision of a muscular regulatory state restraining free markets is closest to his. Tim Fernholz, Quartz, "Bernie Sanders has an Elizabeth Warren problem at tonight’s debate," 30 July 2019 This tile was made in that style, with bits of yellow to be copacetic with the Moroccan plates on the walls. Lisa Cregan, House Beautiful, "Mimi McMakin and Ashley Sharpe on Decorating a Whimsical Palm Beach House," 1 Dec. 2014

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'copacetic.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of copacetic

1919, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for copacetic

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.

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The first known use of copacetic was in 1919

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Last Updated

27 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Copacetic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Apr. 2021.

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