Simple Definition of incur
: to cause yourself to have or experience (something unpleasant or unwanted)
Examples of incur in a sentence
Submitting students to the rigors of learning seemed only to incur the wrath of many of them … —Ben Marcus, Time, 8 Jan. 2001
Shakespeare … took plots and characters from wherever he pleased, rarely acknowledging sources, and he saw so little sanctity in his own words that anyone could print them who cared to incur the expense—which did not include royalties to Shakespeare. —Walter Kendrick, New York Times Book Review, 29 Oct. 1989
To be too good-looking is sometimes to incur the dislike, if not the hatred, of the ordinary-looking. —Joseph Epstein, The Middle of My Tether, 1983
What did he do to incur such wrath?
Incur vs. Occur
Incur bears a strong family resemblance to another English verb, occur. If you are confused by their similarities, a glance back at their Latin roots might help you to tell them apart.
Both words have a common root in Latin currere, meaning “to run.” In the case of incur, currere was combined with Latin in “into,” which produced the meaning “to run into.” In English, the one who incurs, or “runs into,” is most often a person and the thing incurred is usually some self-inflicted negative consequence (such as a debt or somebody’s foul temper). The ancestor of occur, by contrast, paired Latin ob “in the way” with currere, producing the basic meaning “to run in the way of,” or “to present itself.” In English, the verb came to apply strictly to events, things, or ideas; something (such as a tornado) that occurs, or “presents itself,” appears or happens; a thought that occurs, or “presents itself” to someone, comes into that person’s mind.
To summarize: a person (or something composed of people, like a company) incurs, or becomes subject to, something negative; something occurs, or happens, or an idea occurs to, or comes into the mind of, someone.
Origin and Etymology of incur
Middle English incurren, from Latin incurrere, literally, to run into, from in- + currere to run — more at car
First Known Use: 15th century
INCUR Defined for Kids
Definition of incur for Students
: to experience as a result of a person's own actions <Because of his behavior he incurred suspicion.>
Legal Definition of incur
: to become liable or subject to : bring down upon oneself <incur obligations> <incur expenses>
Seen and Heard
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