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I looked up copacetic but it appears to have no official origin. Also, what exactly does the word mean, please use it in a sentence.

1919, but it may have origins in 19c. U.S. Southern black speech. Origin unknown, suspects include Latin, Yiddish (Hebrew kol b'seder), Italian, Louisiana French (coupe-sétique), and Native American. None is considered convincing by linguists. (Etymonline)

marked as duplicate by Edwin Ashworth, curiousdannii, Drew, Dan Bron, Kris Feb 13 '18 at 10:37

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  • I first came to know the term as a "beatnik" term, particularly the West Coast Beats. (Or at least it was what TV would have us believe was beatnik vernacular for the time.) But this was the 50s & 60s -- no idea what came before that. – Hot Licks Feb 12 '18 at 21:56
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    no words have "official" origins. – Fattie Feb 12 '18 at 22:17
  • Strange thing - I always thought that the word was a made-up word by a certain jazz-age musician - maybe I read that somewhere, and it's completely wrong! – Fattie Feb 12 '18 at 22:19
  • languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=31372 Likely a made-up word in a 1919 novel. – Colin Feb 13 '18 at 7:07
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I found two sources willing to speculate on possible origins of the word, although it would be reasonable to say that the origin is widely considered uncertain.

From Green's Dictionary of Slang:

? Chinook jargon copasenee, everything is satisfactory, esp. as orig. used on the waterways of Washington state. Other etys. include: (i) the painfully contrived phr. the cop is on the settee, i.e. the cop is not paying attention, which elided into copacetic and was supposedly used as such by US hoodlums; (ii) a word presumed to be Ital. but otherwise unknown; (iii) Fr. coupersetique, f. couper, to strike; thus striking or worth a strike; (iv) the Yid. phr. hakol b’seder, all is in order or, earlier, kol b’tzedek, all with justice. Note that HDAS dismisses all these and states ‘ety. unknown’

In an article syndicated in 1994, Evan Morris offers similar speculation:

Theories as to the origin of "copacetic" are literally all over the map. Some authorities trace it to an Italian word "copissettic," supposedly meaning "excellent," but others point to a Creole-French word, "coupersetique," or "able to be coped with." My preference is for the Hebrew connection, from the phrase "kol ba seder," meaning "all in order." There remains the question, of course, of how a Hebrew phrase came to be current in American black English. The most likely explanation is that a Jewish shopkeeper, when asked "How's it going?" might well reply with "kol ba seder," and that the phrase was picked up in phonetic form as "copacetic" by his customers. Am I sure that it happened this way? No, but it's a lot more fun than "origin unknown" isn't it?

I certainly wouldn't put a great deal of faith in the speculative conclusion Morris comes to, but it's worth noting that the three most "popular" theories appear to be the Italian, French Creole, and Hebrew possibilities, but the Chinook jargon possibility posited by GDoS appears to be a strong contender.

  • Wiktionary says the Hebrew option is "rejected", and I'd have to agree. – Colin Feb 13 '18 at 6:55
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Etymonline suggests:

1919, but it may have origins in 19c. U.S. Southern black speech. Origin unknown, suspects include Latin, Yiddish (Hebrew kol b'seder), Italian, Louisiana French (coupe-sétique), and Native American. None is considered convincing by linguists.

Merriam-Webster Unabridged defines copacetic as meaning

very satisfactory: fine and dandy

It marks copacetic as being "US, informal."

Some example sentences (with references) that M-W furnishes:

“Please, don't let's discuss this topic anymore.” Well, that was copacetic with me, since I was only using it for openers … — S. J. Perelman, The New Yorker, 17 Oct. 1970

… his smile told him that everything was copacetic. — Robert Bloch, Cosmopolitan, November 1972

During the group meal at the end of the class, I receive the first hint that all may not be copacetic in the kitchen. — Robert Moritz, GQ, May 1998

Wiktionary has an article that discusses copacetic and its possible origins extensively.

  • Check previous posts for duplicates. – Kris Feb 13 '18 at 10:38

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