In "The Light Princess" by George MacDonald, the king consults "two very wise Chinese philosophers" about the princess's condition.1 The philosophers are named "Hum-Drum" and "Kopy-Keck." The story is full of puns, and these faux-Chinese names would seem to be no exception.
Hum-Drum is described as "a Materialist... slow and sententious"; his name is clearly a play on the word humdrum: "lacking variety or excitement; dull; boring." So far, so good.
However, I'm not coming up with a similar play on words for Kopy-Keck, who is "a Spiritualist... quick and flighty." Kopy sounds like "copy," perhaps, but "Keck" has me stumped. (I don't think the sense of "to vomit" has any bearing!)
- The post's author tries to explain the connection between "copycat" and "quick and flighty" by saying that cats are quick; but cats don't really have anything to do with the usual meaning of "copycat."
- Etymonline informs that "copycat" is first attested in American English in 1884, although the word is "probably at least a generation older"; still, it seems unlikely that MacDonald, a Scottish writer, would be making a pun on the term in a story published in 1864, twenty years earlier.
And in any case, it's unclear that Kopy-Keck has a tendency to "copy" anything. He propounds a theory that the princess has no gravity because her soul is from another planet and therefore is not attracted to the Earth, and he suggests that she can be cured by being taught extensively about the Earth so that she takes an interest in it. I can see the connection here to being a "Spiritualist," but that's it.
So, the question: What is the significance of the name Kopy-Keck? Is it a pun or play on words? If so, on what?
1 Chapter 7, "Try Metaphysics"--available at Project Gutenberg