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 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

kacken

 

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…

Examples:

  • 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.
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.

  • 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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Anonymous
Anonymous
2 years ago

Can you explain the expression “N Scheiß muss ich? I know what the words mean, but what’s the significance of the slang as a whole?

Anonymous
Anonymous
2 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Ok, yes, that makes sense. I saw a ton of products online – stickers, tshirts, calendars, etc. with that expression printed on them. I was also curious as to why it’s so popular. It’s not one I’d heard until recently so I wasn’t sure if there was a particular reason…….

Thanks!

Annasc
Annasc
3 years ago

Funny, but in russian a similarly sounding word means just the same thing, but in a most literal sense: to shit in a restroom (hope I translated it the right way). And in russian, it sounds kinda clumsy, such a thing you would only say in front of your closest relatives..

Annasc
Annasc
3 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Haha, not that I can think of – it’s actually not so common to explain “why” exactly you are going to the restroom and how long you are going to stay there :D
Although if I wanted to specify the reason very much – I would say “I’m going ‘big'” or smth like that.

Manes
Manes
3 years ago

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.

sibilant
sibilant
5 years ago

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.)

Katzenbär_Zeit
Katzenbär_Zeit
5 years ago

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.)

James
James
5 years ago

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!

James
James
5 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Alles Klar! Bayern ist schuld! —> “nicht mal” ist mein Schreibfehler oben….oops, sorry! Danke trotzdem!

Anonymous
Anonymous
5 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

I’ve heard it also with accusative before (though rarely). Kind of in line with “einsauen” or “einmatzen” (?) (I could not find that word in the Duden, so I am not sure I wrote it right, and it is probably a not very well known dialect word.) The word “sich (acc.) einkacken/scheißen” then means not the act of shitting the pants but dirtying your pants by shitting into them, which is about the same. Although I think I heard the phrase above most often in the form: “Bescheiß dich (mal) nicht gleich.” which is in line with the idiom: “sich bepissen/bepieseln”.

Nicklas Kulczycki
5 years ago

>”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”.

person243
person243
5 years ago

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
5 years ago
Reply to  person243

*vergackeiern

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
5 years ago

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.

Andrés Octavio Rodríguez Morales
Andrés Octavio Rodríguez Morales
5 years ago

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 :(

Anonymous
Anonymous
5 years ago

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

katzenkotzen
katzenkotzen
5 years ago

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

tohaklim
5 years ago

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” :)

Lykozrut
Lykozrut
5 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

As mentioned, “-/kack/-” workds sound too childisch, so “srať” would be closer to kacken, maybe little bit more rude. But it would also work with kakať though (used by kids or parents)
nasrať – lit. to shit on; fig. to make angry (also reflexive)
vysrať – lit. to shit (the whole act: start, do, stop); fig. leave something be without success (reflexive)
posrať – lit. einkacken (babies/ too late at the toilet)(reflexive); fig. einkacken (to be scared)(reflexive); fig. verkacken (to screw up)
zasrať – to fart; to make dirty
odsrať – to pay for a mistake; to order to make way (obstacle/ person)
presrať – fig. to overdo; lit. to be on the toilet too long and miss something (like a TV program/class)
osrať – make dirty by shitting (birds can do that)
obsrat – same as above, but completely/all arround

Would be nice to make an articke like ou did in my language :)
Oh, and you can guess the language…

katherinehlchan
katherinehlchan
5 years ago

The PDF link is not working.

Jake
Jake
5 years ago

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.”

Jake
Jake
5 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Sweet, ich freue mich drauf!

Anomenschkind
Anomenschkind
5 years ago

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…

Anonymous
Anonymous
5 years ago

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

Anonymous
Anonymous
5 years ago

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.)

berlingrabers
5 years ago

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

Kris
Kris
5 years ago

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