Copacetic or copasetic

Copacetic is an adjective used to describe something or someone as pleasing or meeting one’s expectations. It is generally a North American term. If it is used in other countries an explanation is usually given in the text. The term is generally seen as informal.

It is not listed in the dictionary, as therefore should be termed slang, but the adverbial form is sometimes used as copacetically.

Both copasetic and copesetic are accepted alternate spellings. Copesetic is hardly ever seen, but copasetic is used once for every two times copacetic is used.

The term’s origins are in dispute, but the first time it is seen in print is 1919 in a work of fiction. All other explanations are unverifiable.


Her mom, Marion Robinson, moved into the White House on day one, to help keep everything copacetic. [Amsterdam News]

The Vikings are banking on that outcome, too, and they might not be as adamant on keeping Peterson if they didn’t believe things will be copacetic in the end. [ESPN]

But the enjoyment of reading Richard Ford is not about decommissioning, it is about the exquisite pleasure of acquisition of language (larruping, galunker, copacetic). [The Guardian]

Although we have no doubt that his naming was ambiguous, calling a Black male character Bucky doesn’t sound copasetic in post Old Jim Crow America. [Buenos Aires Herald]

Mr. Rizzie’s simple black-and-white panels, featuring “5 Barns/Black,” from 1979, are answered copacetically by Ross Watts’s and Tad Wiley’s geometric works, also on wood. [The New York Times]

2 thoughts on “Copacetic or copasetic”

  1. Funny that I should be defending a coined word as having a particularly better spelling than other forms, but

    copacetic [1]copasetic [2] (red squiggly from autocorrector)

    The first form is feels more like a genuine word, derived from the Latin or some such. After all, we have [acetic] acid. Also the existing word, ‘ascetic’ which sounds to a literate person like it might be related. The little hooks and fluff of Velcro®-of-the-mind.

    I’ve often wondered if somehow copacetic was just derived from a now extinct loose coinage: copacific … which kind of means the same thing co-pacif-ic ≡ also-peace-able. Everything at peace. Copacific. Copacetic.

    This etymological brain fârt (of mine) comes from having a very good friend who exhibits the most vexing mental dyslalia: the words are so loosely bound in his head to ideas, that he very frequently substitutes a word that sounds “kind of kin” to the one he really is meaning to use. And he’s utterly phonologically myopic to the transgressions. Not classical “Spoonerisms”, but … “Bill-isms”. He would be exactly the kind of person to gracefully (and unconsciously) permanently reassign “copacific” to “copacetic”.

    I wonder.


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