Words: copacetic, adj.

ERUDITION AND slangy wit are the stock-in-trade of the music critic Will Friedwald. He supplies notes for a new CD collection of vintage sides by June Christy and Peggy Lee, "almost all with highly copacetic small group jazz backing". Not a gap in a classical education, for, variously spelt, it surfaced around 1919 in Harlem, became a dance group's name, and, 50 years on, went across the universe, when Mission Control in Houston informed the astronauts, "Everything is in copacetic order."

John O'Hara thought this synonym for well-drilled was a corruption from the Italian, but the OED and the Random House American Slang assert that its origins are uncertain. Wentworth and Flexner posit the Louisiana Creole French coupe-setique.

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