One of the night nurses told me the other day when I arrived to round that all my patients were “copasetic.” I don’t remember ever hearing this word before, but it stuck in my mind and I couldn’t stop repeating it to myself. Finally, I had to look it up. Wikipedia seems to have the widest collection of possible origins for it. Various suggested etymologies include a Chinook trade dialect, a Cajun phrase, Chicago gangsters, and the space flight program.

But my quest for understanding led me to this addictive website, World Wide Words, which in addition to copasetic sets out to explain other odd words like the American absquatulate, the misunderstood decimate, and the fascinating floccinaucinihilipilification (I dare you to guess what that one means before clicking on it).