Word of the Day – “kacken” (explicit)

— 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 and Kim Jun Un.
Annnd it’s a must have for German learners, at least if you want to learn the language that people really speak. 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

kacken

 

It doesn’t look like it but kacken is a direct import from venerable Latin. Or should I say, ventral Latin (get it, get it?). It had the same meaning 2,000 years ago that it does today: to take a dump.

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

Yeah… wait with this till after you’ve passed the 3 months mark.

Now, of course it’s nice to know how to say to take a dump in a dude-way but that’s not what makes Kacke useful. The thing is, Germans  are “fecal swearers”, that is, 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:

but it should be

There’s no “z” in the word. If you want to use slang, that’s fine, but with wrong pronunciation, you really loose all the “cool”. It’s like me sayin’ this:

Ugh. Uber 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:

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

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…

Examples:

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.
Cool.
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 kackverbs

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

for members :)

50
Leave a Reply

avatar
  Subscribe  
newest oldest
Notify of
Shaun
Shaun

Sobald ich habe “Der Kaffee schmeckt kacke” gelesen, habe ich “Es ist Kacke, Austin” gedacht. Vielen Dank, wie immer!

Lisa
Lisa

Just wondering why you wouldn’t write the reflexive with “Der kleine Junge hat eingekackt.”

Kris
Kris

Scheißkacke. So viele neue Wörter zu lernen. Und mein Appetit ist jetzt echt… kacke.

berlingrabers

Finally, a post about “regular” German…

I would definitely say that in Berlin I hear “Scheiße” etc. more often than “Kacke” & co., but they’re both more common than their English equivalents, I’d say. It’s worth pointing out (possibly repeating myself) that, at least as I perceive it, even “Scheiße” is a fair bit less offensive than “shit.” (For that matter, I hear “shit” and variants used as Anglicisms in German reasonably often.) I’ve even seen “Kackscheiße,” which I thought was pretty funny.

You could pretty consistently translate “Kacke” with “crap” and “Kack-” compounds with “crappy ____” and it would almost always work. Even some of the meanings of “abkacken” can be translated with “crap out”:

– Sobald es zu kalt wird, kackt der Akku ab.
– As soon as it gets too cold, the battery craps out.

I think you could use it with the Maria partying example too, but it would sound maybe more mean than “abgekackt” does there, since you usually use it with things like batteries, electronics, machinery, etc. Wouldn’t work with Thomas bowling, although a fun (more obscene) expression for performing terribly is “shit the bed.” “Played like crap” probably fits the tone and seriousness better there, though. “Shit the bed” is more like “verkacken.”

“Verkackte” actually exists in English via Yiddish (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yiddish_words_used_in_English), by the way.

What would you say are milder terms than “Kacke”? I mean, as an exclamation, “Mist!” is pretty tame… what else? I’ve also heard “kackern,” which does not show up in Leo or Dict.cc, but does get some Google hits, always referring to small kids (which is definitely why I’ve heard it). I guess that’s kind of on the childishness level of “pullern”?

Finally: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YbYWhdLO43Q

Anonymous
Anonymous

Hallo, Emanuel.
You never fail to make me laugh with with your word lessons! Who says Germans don’t have a sense of humor?? :) Vielen dank for making me eingekackt my pants laughing :-0
(Hope I used the word correctly.)

Anonymous
Anonymous

Oh, BTW….hope you enjoy this…….
comment image

Anomenschkind
Anomenschkind

Du hast meine Wünsche gehört! Ich wollte immer schon einen ‘ Fluchen ‘ Unterricht haben, aber klar dürfen die Lehrerinnen nicht xD

Diese Worte mit kacken; kann man ‘ scheiße ‘ damit wechseln? Wie ‘ einscheißen’ oder ‘ verscheißen ‘? Weiß schon dass das Wort ‘ beschissen ‘ gibt…

Jake
Jake

Can you explain the reason for the following?

“Und, wie lange wart ihr gestern feiern?” instead of “Und, wie lange habt ihr gestern gefeiert?”

“Ich würde kurz warten. War grad kacken.”, instead of “Ich würde kurz warten. Hab grad gekackt.”

katherinehlchan
katherinehlchan

The PDF link is not working.

tohaklim

Slavic languages also use the Latin kack- root, with kacken now usually sounding childish and cute (as much as it can be).
Wenn es ein deutsche Wort gibt, das ich aussprechen konnen, ist es “Scheiße” :)

katzenkotzen
katzenkotzen

“Kackscheiße” is the best word that I learned from Berlin graffiti.

Anonymous
Anonymous

I just signed up to follow the blog. Super smart, funny, and useful. Great post!

Andrés Octavio Rodríguez Morales
Andrés Octavio Rodríguez Morales

Hey, I haven’t read a single article this week, but when I came to read this one it said I had surpassed my limit of 2 posts per week :(

Cristina @Linguavert

I recently rewatched the World Cup 2016 match between Germany and Brazil. After the German team scored the sixth or seventh goal, the announcer cried, “Was geht denn hier ab?” Could a theoretical German-speaking Brazilian fan have rephrased that as: “Was kackt denn hier ab?”

person243
person243

I would say, for a game, it is more the players or the team that “abkacken”. And announcers, like any other fans, are normally identifying with the team, so the Brazilian would more likely have said by the sixth goal: “Mann, kacken wir heute aber ab.” or “Warum kacken wir heute nur so ab? [curses in Portuguese]”
“Was geht denn hier ab?” is more an expression of surprise and disbelieve, it would also work for any other spectator here.

I hope I could be of help.

person243
person243

There are two words that take in a “kack” sometimes. I mean: “beknackt” (stupid) and “begackeiern” (to pull so. leg). So you hear “So eine bekackte Idee habe ich noch nie gehört.” = “Such a stupid/shitty idea, I’ve never heard before.” and “Ich lass mich doch nicht von dir verkackeiern.” = “I won’t let you trick me.” Is that because one wants to emphasize by explicits? Or do I see that wrong and that has nothing with “Kacke” at all and is just a coincidence.

Here some proverbs:
“Die Kacke ist am Dampfen.” = “The shit hit the fan.” (The time when everything is gone awry and all is about to be lost)

“Kack die Wand an.” = “Fuck me running.” (expression of baffled disbelieve)

“auf die Kacke hauen” = “to blow off some steam/to celebrate excessively”

And for a witty response to people who swear too much:

“Die Dinge, die du in den Mund nimmst, nehme ich nicht mal in die Hand.” = “The things, that you take in your mouth (say), I won’t even take in my hand.”

person243
person243

*vergackeiern

Nicklas Kulczycki

>”Irgendwas an dem Essen war komisch” …In this sort of context, you *can* still literally translate “komisch” as “funny”. Some examples: “I’ve got a funny feeling about this”, “The food tastes kind of funny”, “That’s a funny way to make someone like you”.

James
James

Einkacken – 50% meiner deutschen Kollegen sagen “Kack dich nicht mal ein” und die andere hälfte sagen “kack dir nicht mal ein”. Welche ist richtig ‘Hoch Deutsch’? (Noch dazu, diejenigen die “Einkacken” mit Akkusativ sagen, sind meistens Bayern….hmmmm…*rub chin*) danke! Tolle Website!

Katzenbär_Zeit
Katzenbär_Zeit

Never had trouble with how to pronounce “Schiße” because I never actually heard it pronounced, I learned how the linguistics were put together and just read it, never pronounced it “schizzhen”, sounds ridiculous and off. There’s not even an N in there. (I’m also the person who agonizes over hearing Scandinavian J names pronounced incorrectly, though, so I guess I’ve got an ear for it.)

sibilant
sibilant

I didn’t realize that “kacken” was a little vulgar — as another poster pointed out, it isn’t at all in Russian: indeed, it’s how you would speak to children. Is “Kacka” also a little vulgar? How would you speak to a child (someone else’s, let’s say, to make it impersonal) neutrally about defecation? Can you say “Kacka machen”? And how you speak to a doctor?

(For what it’s worth, in the US, the current children’s word is the onomatopoeically infelicitous “to poop”. With doctors once might discuss defecation and stool samples, though these days US doctors are extremely flexible about word choice.)

Manes
Manes

The only thing I wanted to say is that there is no word “shat“ in english. I shit, you shit, he, she, it shits, they shit, everybody shits, but to shit in the past is still…to shit. You had shit or will shit. The bird had shit in your ice cream.
Ich bin erstaunt das niemand bemerkt das.