The meaning of “kacken”

— Warning: this post is full of sh***it —

kacken-kack-meaningHello everyone

and welcome to our German Word of the Day. The word we’ll look at today is an absolute must. A must do for every single human being; even sexy Hollywood actresses like  Kim Jong-Un…. I mean AND Kim Jong-Un.
And if you want to learn the language that people really speak, it’s a must have for you, too.
Because for today’s word, there’s a shitload of colloquial uses. Hey and speaking of shitload, that describes quite well what was I saw in the bowl after my morning number two today… here, let me show you …
I took a picture …

Come on, admit it.
A part of you wants to click it. You want to know whether I really did it. Well, there’s only one way to find out. Make sure, no one at work sees your screen though….
Anyway, today we’ll have a look at an integral piece of colloquial spoken German. Ladies and gents, get ready for a look at the meaning and use of



It doesn’t look like it, but kacken is a direct import from good ol’ venerable Latin. Or should I say, ventral Latin (get it, get it?).
Back then, it was cacare and it had the same meaning 2,000 years ago that it has today: taking a dump.

  • Boah, ich muss schon wieder kacken. Irgendwas an dem Essen war komisch.
  • Man, I have to take a dump again. Something about the food was wrong.
  • “Kann ich ins Bad? Ich muss Zähne putzen.”
    “Ich würde kurz warten. War grad kacken.”
  • “Can I use the bathroom? I gotta brush my teeth.”
    “I’d wait for a sec. Just took a dump.”
  • Der Vogel hat direkt auf mein Eis gekackt.
  • The bird shat directly onto my ice cream.

And with all of these words a really important question is of course what’s the “dinner table factor“?
Well… it’s pretty pretty low.
Kacken is not as foul and rough sounding as scheißen but it’s more crude sounding than the English to take a dump. I’d say you can use kacken with anyone who you’d call “bro” but definitely not at a meeting or with the family of your crush. Or with your crush, for that matter.

  • “Kommst du kuscheln?”
    “Gleich. Ich geh noch kurz kacken.
  • “Are you gonna come and cuddle?”
    “I’ll be right there. Just gonna take a dump real quick.”

Yeah… better wait with this till after you’ve passed the three months mark.

Now, of course it’s nice to know how to say to take a dump in a bro-way but that’s not what makes Kacke useful.
The thing is, every language has swear words, but languages have a different focus. Some use a lot of religious terms, others focus on the mother, English is biased toward intercourse and Germans  are what we could call  “fecal swearers“. That means that the bulk of their swearing is made up from words relating to the final stretch of digestion.
The most famous word is, no doubt, die Scheiße, and oh my God, while we’re at it… lots of German learners, even total beginners, like to use Scheiße but pronounce it the wrong way.
They say something like this:

  • “shy-zzuhn”‘

But that is SHIT!!! Stop it!!!
The proper way to say it is this:

  •  “shysssssuh

See the difference? There’s no “z” in Scheiße. If you want to use the “heavy guns”, that’s fine, but then you need to nail the pronunciation or it’ll really loose all the “cool”. It’s like me sayin’ this:

Ugh. So cringe.
So… if you need to say Scheiße, say it with a SHARP S and if you can’t get your tongue to do that, you should probably leave it.  Or you could use Kacke instead.

Like shit, but softer

Because Kacke is kind of the little brother of Scheiße. It gets the “message” across, but it’s not as explicit, aggressive and rude-sounding. Like… Scheiße is a rutting deer,  Kacke is Bambi. They’re both roe deer but they’re very diff … oh my god, what am I saying. Let’s just get to the examples:

  • Das Buch war voll Kacke.
  • The book was really bad.
  • Maria hat so viel Kacke über dich erzählt.
  • Maria was talking soo much shit about you.
  • Kacke, ich hab’ mein Handy zu Hause vergessen.
  • Shit, I forgot my phone at home.

And ’cause slang don’t give no damn ’bout grammar, just like Scheiße, Kacke  can be used like an adjective.

  • Der Kaffee schmeckt kacke.
  • The coffee tastes shit.
  • “Und morgen muss ich um 5 aufstehen.”
    “Wow, so früh.”
    “Ja, (das ist) voll kacke, aber geht nicht anders.”
  • “And tomorrow I’ll have to get up at .”
    “Wow, so early.”
    “Yeah, it sucks. Nothing I can do, though.

And just like Scheiße, it can be slapped in front of words. And please make sure you LEAVE out the “e” then and say Kack-something. Because otherwise, you know…


  • Nee, ich hab heute keine Zeit. Ich muss doch diese Kackpräsentation machen.
  • Nah, I don’t have time today. I have to do this crappy presentation.
  • Ich will nicht irgendwelche Kacksitze direkt vor der Leinwand.
  • I don’t want some sorry ass seats right in front of the Screen.
  • Deutsch wäre echt cool, wenn die Kackartikel nicht wären.
  • German would be really cool, if there weren’t those crappy articles.

I especially like this compound-Kacke, and I use it much more than Scheiß-. It’s low brow and crude and all, but at the same time, it’s kind of cute. Like… a pouting person vs. an angry person.
Now, what’s missing is what in grammar terminology is known as Kackverbs…  I mean… not Kackverbs as in they’re based on Kacke, not in the sense of they suck. Because they’re really, really useful.

Cool verbs with “kacken”

The first one is also the most literal one. Einkacken means pooping your pants; both, in a literal sense and in the sense of being scared.

  • Der kleine Junge hat eingekackt.
  • The little boy shat his pants.
  • Jetzt kack dir mal nicht ein. So kalt ist das Wasser nicht.
  • Now, don’t shit your pants, dude. The water isn’t that cold.

The next one is ankacken. Taken literally, it means to poop at something but it’s only used as a metaphor for bitching at someone.

  • Mein Boss hat mich heute angegackt, weil ich 1 Minute zu spät gekommen bin.
  • My Boss bitched at me because I was one Minute late.

It’s really funny if you visualize that in a literal sense. At least when you’re a 12 year old like I am.
Anyway, the two that are the most useful ones, abkacken and verkacken, are also the most abstract ones.
Abkacken expresses the idea of failing… like… really failing at some kind of activity. And it can be done by people as well as stuff.

  • Thomas hat gestern beim Bowling voll abgekackt.
  • Thomas played really badly yesterday at bowling.
  • “Und, wie lange wart ihr gestern feiern.”
    “Nicht so lange. Maria hat irgendwie schon voll früh abgekackt.
  • “And, how long were you out partying last night?”
    “Not that long, actually. Maria gave up/had to bail kinda early.”
    (she fails at partying, staying awake)
  • Sobald es zu kalt wird, kackt der Akku ab.
  • As soon as it gets too cold, the battery  packs up/stops working.

And verkacken means  to screw up. For those of you who’ve read my article on the ver-prefix… you can think of verkacken as to poo-ify, so as a classic change-ver.

  • “Wie war die Prüfung?”
    “Ich glaub’ ich hab verkackt.”
  • “How was the exam?”
    “I think I screwed up.”
  • Eigentlich kann ich Mousse au Chocolat, aber dieses Mal hab’ ich es irgendwie verkackt.
  • Usually, I know how to make a Mousse Au Chocolat but I screwed up this one, somehow.
  • Thomas hat es sich mit Marias Eltern verkackt.
  • Thomas screwed up with Maria’s parents. (They hate him now.)
  • Du und deine verkackte/bekackte Playstation… heirate die doch.
  • You and your god damn Playstation… why don’t you marry it.

The last one actually doesn’t really fit in, but I thought I’d mention it anyway.
And… I think that’s it for now. We … uhm… got it all out.
Now I have to go and wash my mouth.
Seriously though, Kacke is vulgar, yes, but I think it is way less offensive sounding in German than shit is in English.
That doesn’t mean, that you should start throwing it around all the time though. ESPECIALLY not literally.
A well-placed Kacke here and there among friends will make you sound super native but how does the saying go… less is more.
As always, if you have any questions or suggestions or if you have other uses that you think are missing from my list, just … uh…. drop me a comment.
I hope you liked it and see you next time.

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