incur

verb
in·​cur | \ in-ˈkər How to pronounce incur (audio) \
incurred; incurring

Definition of incur

transitive verb

: to become liable or subject to : bring down upon oneself incur expenses

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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.

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?
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Recent Examples on the Web The violations have not been released by the league, but teams typically incur fines in the offseason for exceeding guidelines limiting time and contact for their practices. Mark Inabinett | Minabinett@al.com, al, 1 July 2021 Even in a seller’s market, selling a home within 2 years will incur some extra costs. Ryan Serhant, Forbes, 21 June 2021 Contributing more than you’re allowed to an IRA or Roth IRA can incur a 6% excise tax per year for each year the excess contributions remain in the account. Liz Weston, oregonlive, 23 May 2021 But retirees may not want to incur the expense of an investment advisor, and few want to spend their retirement years managing their portfolio. Jack Guttentag, Forbes, 17 June 2021 The blockage, however, is likely to incur shipping delays. NBC News, 24 Mar. 2021 Natural gas spot prices spiked as high as 100 times typical levels, forcing utilities and other natural gas users to incur exorbitant costs, many of which were passed on to customers. Matthew Daly, ajc, 3 Mar. 2021 Scammers were discovering loopholes in company return policies for bulky goods with merchants more apt to write off the cost of an item and offer a refund than incur the shipping costs involved in taking back a large, heavy product. Indy Guha, Forbes, 10 June 2021 Like sports bets, binary options either pay out or incur total losses. Paul J. Davies, WSJ, 4 June 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'incur.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of incur

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for incur

Middle English incurren, from Latin incurrere, literally, to run into, from in- + currere to run — more at car

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Time Traveler for incur

Time Traveler

The first known use of incur was in the 15th century

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Dictionary Entries Near incur

incunabulum

incur

incurability

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Statistics for incur

Last Updated

23 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Incur.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/incur. Accessed 30 Jul. 2021.

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More Definitions for incur

incur

verb

English Language Learners Definition of incur

formal : to cause yourself to have or experience (something unpleasant or unwanted)

incur

verb
in·​cur | \ in-ˈkər How to pronounce incur (audio) \
incurred; incurring

Kids Definition of incur

: to experience as a result of a person's own actions Because of his behavior he incurred suspicion.

incur

transitive verb
in·​cur | \ in-ˈkər How to pronounce incur (audio) \
incurred; incurring

Legal Definition of incur

: to become liable or subject to : bring down upon oneself incur obligations incur expenses

More from Merriam-Webster on incur

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for incur

Nglish: Translation of incur for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of incur for Arabic Speakers

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