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Untranslatable Dutch: Inkakmomentje Posted by on Oct 6, 2020 in Dutch Language, Dutch Vocabulary

Today we have a fun untranslatable Dutch word. It’s used quite a lot and its use is quite widespread. It also isn’t very vulgar, so it can be used in many settings, too! I’m talking about that moment that you kinda fall apart: your inkakmomentje.

Click here for more untranslatable words

Inkak… Wait, what?

Even koala’s (koalas) have their inkakmomentje! (Image by David Clode on Unsplash)

An inkakmomentje is a brief moment where you experience inkakken. It could be the after-dinner dip or that need to take a nap after that delicious lunch. You can even use it as the “brain fart” moment, where you missed something in a conversation, or said something that made no sense – you explain it away as an inkakmomentje. Or when a situation gets boring, say the saai (boring) part of a feestje (party). It can also be used to describe falen (failure). For example, if you have not been doing as good as you used to, you are aan het inkakken. But what on earth does that word mean?

In-crap-moment?

So saai! (Image by Camila Quintero Franco at Unsplash.com)

Inkakmomentje is a samenstelling (compound) of the verb inkakken, which means “to doze off” or even “to fall asleep” and the verkleinwoord (diminutive) momentje (little/brief/short moment). So a direct translation would be a “brief doze off moment”. Google Translate makes inkakmomentje a “moment of collapse”, which sounds way more dramatic than it usually is.

Inkakken itself is a bit of a weird word, too. Kakken is a vulgar way of saying “to crap”. It comes from the Latin cacāre with the same meaning. Why the voorzetsel (preposition) in is used here and changes the meaning accordingly, I couldn’t find out. Usually, in is used to describe a transitive state. For example, inslapen is “falling asleep”, and slapen is “to sleep”. According to that logic, inkakken means to “go into the crap”, or the more vulgar English equivalent “going to shit”. The Dutch inkakken does not have that kind of vulgar energy, but it is not the most formal thing either.

A more harmless synonym for inkakken is the Van Dale definition: insuffen. You can also say insufmomentje, which would mean the same thing, but without any of the vulgar energy.

English equivalent

Well, he had an inkakmomentje! (Image by Jonas Denil at Unsplash.com)

I don’t know of any English equivalent that makes sense here. Perhaps something like a “sleepy moment”? If you know one, please let me know. For now, I think inkakmomentje is truly untranslatable!

Have you used or heard of the word inkakmomentje before? What do you think is a fitting equivalent? Let me know in the comments below!

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About the Author: Sten

Hi! I am Sten, both Dutch and German. For many years, I've written for the German and the Dutch blogs with a passion for everything related to language and culture. It's fascinating to reflect on my own culture, and in the process allow our readers to learn more about it! Besides blogging, I am a German-Dutch-English translator and filmmaker.


Comments:

  1. Nikki:

    If I understand correctly, the equivalent in English would be “a senior moment,” which is a bit rude, equating old age with forgetfulness and being confused.

    • Sten:

      @Nikki Interesting, I haven’t heard that one before. It sounds pretty rude, indeed, but I think it does make a good equivalent!
      Thanks!

  2. jared:

    I would say: a brain fart. Slightly vulgar but okay for most offices.

    • Sten:

      @jared Yeah that’s a good one too. I think it fits in some situations, but brain fart doesn’t capture the whole meaning of inkakmomentje.


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