Claptrap:  I love to say this word, it has such great rhythm. Originally theater slang–a trap to catch a clap–described any device, grand gesture, or silliness actors used to elicit applause. First appeared in print in 1721. The kind of showy dramatic flourishes that would garner praise from the audience and be looked down upon by critics.  I believe my jewish grandmother would have called that “schtick”.  Has gone on to mean nonsensical talk.  For example, when I explained to my mother in the fourth grade that life would be over as we know it if she made me wear a coat on top of the ill-conceived sheath that was my Halloween mermaid costume, that was a healthy amount of claptrap.

Copacetic:  Satisfactory or acceptable, in excellent order.  There are almost as many theories about this word as there are letters in it.  It is a purely North American invention made popular in the 20’s.  Some believe the famous tap dancer/singer Bill “Bojangles” Robinson invented it.  He claimed he’d come up with it as a shoeshine boy.  More popular is the belief that it is derived from two Hebrew words meaning “all is in order” and “all with justice”.  Another derivation may be from a Chinook word, something else we co-opted from the American Indian.  The list goes on.  Whatever its derivation, I’m just saying, I really think it would have been copacetic to wander around the neighborhood for one night without a coat.  I mean she went to all that trouble of stapling construction paper gills to my “tail” it seemed a shame for no one to see it.

Wondering what this thing is with me and words?  Check out the Wordy Side Show page.

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