WFT- copacetic

23 July 2010

Whoah, dude!  The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day for March 23rd was, like, wayyy cool.  It was, uh... uh...

Oh, yeah... copacetic!  \koh-puh-SET-ik\

That means "very satisfactory", dude.  Sweeeet.

OK, yes, the word is often associated with "dudes" from the valley because of its prevalent use during various movies of the 80's and early 90's but its use in America goes back to the 1920's and the early jazz era.

M-W provides this background on the word:

Theories about the origin of "copacetic" abound. The tap dancer Bill "Bojangles" Robinson believed he had coined the word as a boy in Richmond, Virginia. When patrons of his shoeshine stand would ask, "How’s everything this morning?" he would reply, "Oh jes’ copacetic, boss; jes’ copacetic." But the word was current in Southern Black English perhaps as early as 1880, so it seems unlikely that Robinson (born in 1878) could have invented the term. Another explanation is that the word is from the Hebrew phrase "kol be sedher," meaning "everything is in order." Possibly it was coined by Harlem blacks working in Jewish businesses. The word’s popularity among Southern blacks, however, points to its originating in one of the Southern cities in which Jewish communities thrived, such as Atlanta.

Another online resource that I find is highly regarded, World Wide Words, records another possible origin of copacetic as the Hebrew phrase kol b'tzedek which means "all with justice".

I am reminded of the words of Psalm 19

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer.  (Psalm 19:14)

and also Psalm 69

But as for me, my prayer is to You, O LORD, at an acceptable time; O God, in the greatness of Your lovingkindness, Answer me with Your saving truth.  (Psalm 69:13)

These words of Psalm 69 are part of the traditional opening prayers spoken each morning: the Mah Tovu.

Consider also the exhortations of Paul:

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. (Romans 12:1)

And consider the encouragement of Peter:

Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord. And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.  (1 Peter 2:1-5)

May we indeed be seen as copacetic in G-d's eyes... dude. ;)


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