I work partially in German and I think that I often hear "hoch wahrscheinlich". I looked in a dictionary and it seams that it is better to use höchstwahrscheinlich. Google also translates "very likely" as "sehr wahrscheinlich", which I feel is less often used. Could someone comment on the difference between the three phrases? And also which ones are more authentic/grammatically right?

1 Answer 1


In everyday speech, you'll probably only hear "höchstwahrscheinlich" and "sehr wahrscheinlich". "Hoch wahrscheinlich" sounds like jargon from some (maybe technical and/or scientific) field, where the exact difference between "höchstwahrscheinlich" and "hoch wahrscheinlich" is definied and relevant.

In general, it's mostly a matter of degree. "Sehr wahrscheinlich" literally means "very probable" or "very likely", "hoch wahrscheinlich" means "highly probable" and "höchstwahrscheinlich" means "of the highest probability" ("highest-ly probable" doesn't compute in English ;) ). So the order would be

"sehr wahrscheinlich" < "hoch wahrscheinlich" < "höchstwahrscheinlich"

But don't be surprised if this more technical distinction isn't always followed in everday speech.

  • Instead of "hoch wahrscheinlich" one can say "mit hoher Wahrscheinlichkeit".
    – Paul Frost
    Mar 9, 2021 at 14:08
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    English has many expression meaning "almost, but not quite, certainly true." So it's not surprising that the same holds in German, or really any natural language. In English you can say "most probably" which would work as a translation for höchstwahrscheinlich. Of course any probability less than 1 is not "most probable" so this should be regarded as a figure of speech.
    – RDBury
    Mar 9, 2021 at 14:08
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    Maybe the most direct equivalent to "almost, but not quite, certainly true." is "mit an Sicherheit grenzender Wahrscheinlichkeit"? (Literally "with a probability bordering on certainty".) Mar 10, 2021 at 9:05

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