Looking up the kanji, あっけなく comes from 呆気(state of surprise, shock)+ ない. So, wouldn't the most natural translation be 'without surprise, conformingly'? Even so, I saw the following phrase in a game:

  • 甘い朝の時間はあっけなく終了し・・・

And after searching a bit, seems like "too quick, unsatisfying" are valid translations. Why is that so?

  • 1
    I imagine if something enjoyable happens "too quickly" it would also be unsatisfying, no?
    – Shurim
    Commented Jan 25, 2021 at 21:13
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    As an aside, あっけない has a fairly specific meaning, "(something finished) without any drama/event one would usually expect in this kind of situation". It can be used both negatively and positively. あっけない死 means an important person died too easily and suddenly without any drama/story/struggle/etc. あっけなく勝てた means this person had expected a tougher game but actually won very easily, and he is not necessarily unsatisfactory.
    – naruto
    Commented Jan 26, 2021 at 1:11

1 Answer 1


According to スーパー大辞林, the 呆気 in あっけない is just 当て字 (kanji used purely for the pronunciation, rather than the meaning), so it contributes nothing to the definition. Here is the entry for 呆気ない:

あっけ-な・い [4] 【呆気ない】 (形)[文]ク あつけな・し

I've bolded the part of the entry which described the word's origin. The latter half of that sentence notes that あっけない evolved from the phrase 「飽く気なし・飽気無」which originally means 「もの足りない。あきたりない。満足しない。」or "not enough/ unsatisfactory".

As for why it can also be translated as "too quickly", if something enjoyable or pleasurable happens too quickly, I imagine it would also be unsatisfying. Just like your example, if your "sweet mornings" pass too quickly, you do not have the time to enjoy it.

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