German words expats should know: Doch

German words expats should know: Doch

Think you know this word’s true meaning? Doch! It’s only just the beginning of your journey to understanding the expansive possibilities of "doch".

What does “doch” mean in English?

Simply put, the German word “doch” (pronounced to rhyme with "epoch" in English) means “to the contrary”. While “doch” can be used on its own to express disagreement, it can also imply that you are about to elaborate, as in “No, and here’s why…”.

For example, say you and a friend are planning an impromptu trip to the cinema to see the newest edition of Die Känguru-Chroniken and your friend tells you, “Aber der Film läuft heute Abend nicht im Kino” ("But the film isn’t showing this evening"). 

But then, when you look on the website yourself, you see that the film is showing, in which case you could say, “Doch!”, which would be a shorter version of saying, “Doch, heute läuft er” ("No, it is playing today"). 

Other ways to use “doch” in German

But apart from expressing negative disagreement, “doch” can also be used in the same way that “anyway” or “after all” might be used in English. 

For example, when the friend with whom you were going to see Die Kangaru-Chröniken feels unwell that afternoon, they might text you and say, “Ich fühle mich schlecht, ich glaub’ ich komm’ heute Abend doch nicht mit” ("I don’t feel very well, I don’t think I can come tonight after all") and you might think to yourself, “Ja, ich geh’ doch allein” ("I’m going to go by myself anyway"), before wishing them "Gute Besserung" and heading out to the Kino.

Doch? Dooooch! The to-go for every German-speaking child

Doch’s ability to express stubborn disagreement so succinctly also makes it a favourite among children and teenagers, in the same way that you might an English-speaking child respond to instruction with “B..b..but!”.

If a German child came to their parent and said, “Morgen werde ich doch nicht in die Schule gehen, weil wir Mathe haben”, (I’m not going to school tomorrow because we have maths), their parent might say, “Das ist mir doch egal” as in, “I don’t care, you’re going to school, maths lesson or not”. 

Thumb image credit: Denis Moskvinov /

Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan

Editor for Germany at IamExpat Media. Olivia first came to Germany in 2013 to work as an Au Pair. Since studying English Literature and German in Scotland, Freiburg and Berlin...

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