What’s Up Doc? – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Have you seen or heard the phrase ‘what’s up, Doc?’ somewhere and would like to know more about the meaning or context of the saying? When someone says ‘what’s up Doc?’ it can be a cultural reference, or a popular way to ask how someone is doing. This post unpacks the meaning, origin and use of the saying.


The phrase ‘what’s up Doc?’ is a common English saying that is used to ask how someone is doing, and sometimes rarely what someone is doing (or how something is progressing).

‘What’s up Doc?’ is the same as ‘how are you?’, but the phrase is used in a more informal sense to ask someone how they are.

The phrase is also a cultural reference at the same time, which usually references a catchphrase of the cartoon character Bugs Bunny.

The phrase is such a popular cultural reference that it has been subsequently used elsewhere, including a reference in Stephen King’s The Shining.

The phrase can be used to refer to Bugs Bunny, but will often still make sense as a cultural reference even to someone who is not familiar with the cartoon. Thus, someone does not always mean a direct reference to the original cartoon where the phrase is said.

There is no denial form of the phrase, and it’s not generally used as a shortened expression, but as a whole saying.

The phrase does not always translate well as a direct phrase to languages without a reference for the saying.

Example Usage

“What’s up, Doc? I saw you guys over here and wanted to know how the work was going so far and if you guys need anything.”
“What’s up Doc? I just wanted to know how you were doing.”

“’What’s up Doc’ has got to be one of my favorite lines in a horror movie, and it’s just because he managed to turn it into something so damn creepy.”

“What’s up Doc? Let me know how you’re doing.”


The origin of the phrase ‘what’s up Doc?’ is from the popular Looney Tunes cartoon series, specifically said by Bugs Bunny throughout most of the show.

While this is not his only catchphrase, it stands as one of the most popular ones that can be recognized almost anywhere in the world.

According to the origin of the cartoon, the phrase ‘what’s up Doc?’ came from the very beginning of the show and appeared as early as the 1940s.

The phrase would be an instant hit, and soon become a popular household saying together with some others from the show, like ‘that’s all, folks!’ taken from its ending.

Later, more modern references to the saying, including its mention in The Shining and its adaptation, would increase its popularity further.

Phrases Similar to What’s Up Doc?

  • How’s it hanging?

Phrases Opposite to What’s Up Doc?

  • N/a

What is the Correct Saying?

  • What’s up doc?
  • What’s up, Doc?

Ways People May Say What’s Up Doc? Incorrectly

There are several ways in which people can use the phrase ‘what’s up doc?’ in the wrong way, or misunderstand the intention of the phrase when it is used.

The phrase is meant to ask someone how they are or how something is going, though the phrase is reserved for informal instead of serious situations.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase What’s Up Doc?

The correct way to use the phrase ‘what’s up Doc?’ is to use it to ask someone how they are, or to ask someone how a specific (often implied or said) thing is going so far.

There are several ways to spell the phrase, including ‘what’s up Doc?’ or ‘what’s up, Doc?’ with both being correct usages of the saying.

The most common use of the phrase is said directly to someone, and the phrase asks for a response from the person it is being said to.

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