November 23, 2016
MarkBernstein.org
 
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Copacetic

I had occasion to check the spelling of “copacetic” yesterday, because the server that hosts the Tinderbox Backstage program got fouled up and everything was far, far from copacetic. The spelling turned out to be perfectly in order, though I wondered whether the word has anything to do with acetic acid, which derives from a Latin word for vinegar.

It turns out that “copacetic” has been something Americans say since 1910 or so. It’s a new word, but it’s not that unusual. Everyone on my 9th grade knew it. Still, nobody knows where it came from, and beyond fairly confident dismissals of folk etymologies from Hebrew, Italian, and Cajun French.

Speaking of etymologies and 9th grade, back then our crowd was much taken with “Sumer Is Icumen In”.

Bullock starteth,

bucke farteth

That last line was fun for 9th grade and seems to carry us back to a simpler, earthier time. But seriously: it’s one thing to spend a lot of time chasing bucks, but if you’re close enough to know whether the buck farteth or not, that buck must be drunk. And do bucks particularly relish beans in early summer?

Something has got to distract one from watching Ubuntu installations while checking Twitter for the latest outrages against law and propriety. We are not copacetic.