When we refer to something as copacetic, we simply mean it is in perfect order, satisfactory.


‘Ok’ and ‘copacetic’ are probably the two English words that generated the highest amount of etymologic speculation; providing many explanations but none are truly copacetic.

This word is only used in North America, while Americans were broadly introduced to it with the result of the 1969 with the Apollo 10 flight:

“The first stages of the flight of Apollo 10, like most of the flights that led up to it, have gone like clockwork. In the words of ground control at Houston, everything has been copacetic” Chicago Tribune, 20 May 1969.

Although relatively common in the 60’s, these days it is very much an unused word. There are about five explanations to the origin of this word; none of them appears in the dictionaries as their editors are very cautious with attributing unsure facts.

Bill ‘Bojangles’ Robinson, a famous African-American singer, actor and tap-dancer claimed he had invented this word in his early shoe-shining days. However, in other African American communities, especially the southern ones, this word is told to have been known prior to Robinson’s days…

According to the second runner-up-explanation, this word was introduced to the English language by the Yiddish speaking Jewish immigrants. Derived from one of two Hebrew phrases ‘hakol be’seder’ meaning everything is in order or ‘hakol be’tzedek’- all in justice. Personally, the phonological resemblance in this case is enough for me to accept this explanation at the seeming lack of a better one.

Other explanations link this word to the Chinook copasenee used on the waterways of Washington State or to the French phrase ‘copain(s) c’est épatant’ simply translated as “buddies! This is great”; this phrase was used to describe a policeman, a cop, who was not actively doing his job in preventing crime, always good news for the criminals!

Why this word?

Well, for two main reasons. First of all, it is always great to replace the word “ok” with a more interesting option! Secondly, this word had a high-end scent to it, is sounds smart and sophisticated when actually it is a slang word. Personally I adore it when things appear to be A when it turns out that they are actually the complete opposite.

How to use copacetic?

Just replace your usual ‘ok’ with it. It’ll be fun!


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Written by Victoria Sheinkin

Victoria Sheinkin is a writer, content editor, translator and chief editor for Speaking three and a half languages, she holds two BAs from the Tel Aviv university- Communication and jounalism, English literature and linguistics.


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