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87 "copacetic" (Word origins - alt.usage.english)




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This article is from the alt.usage.english FAQ, by Mark Israel misrael@scripps.edu with numerous contributions by others.

87 "copacetic" (Word origins - alt.usage.english)


This word, meaning "extremely satisfactory", was first recorded
in 1919, and was originally heard chiefly among U.S. black jazz
musicians. The tap dancer Bill "Bojangles" Robinson (1878-1949)
popularized the word, and claimed to have coined it when he was a
shoeshine boy in Richmond; but a number of Southerners testified
that they had heard the word used by parents or grandparents in the
late 19th century. Suggested origins include: a supposed Italian
word "copacetti"; a Creole French word "coupersetique" meaning "that
can be coped with"; and the Hebrew phrase "kol besedeq" "all with
justice". RHUD2 says that all these theories "lack supporting
evidence".

 

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