NEWS & VIEWS OF PHILLIPS SINCE 1976
Thursday June 22nd 2017

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Copacetic

* Slang adjective means decent, respectable, A-OK, all right, common, satisfactory. It is pronounced koh-puh-set-ik. Suspected origins include Latin, Yiddish (Hebrew kol b’seder), Italian, Louisiana French (coupe-setique), and Native American.

The Alley Newspaper’s inherent expose’ and emphasis on the many dynamic qualities of our Community that are Copacetic.

Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, May 25, 1878 – November 25, 1949 is credited with having introduced a new word, copacetic, into popular culture.

Robinson was an American tap dancer and actor, the best known and most highly paid African American. There are many theories about the origin of copacetic. 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 edher, 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.

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