incur

verb
in·​cur | \in-ˈkər \
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 company said in its annual report its capitalization of those costs is limited, and so some of them are expensed as they are incurred. Michael Rapoport, WSJ, "Streaming TV or Movie? Why It Matters to Amazon’s Profits," 8 July 2018 The applicant would almost surely face lower risks in the United States than back in the home country, and real hardships can be incurred by moving to a new city where the person may not know anyone. David A. Martin, Vox, "How to fix the crisis caused by Central American asylum seekers — humanely," 2 July 2018 Thursday's expenditure report shows new costs of approximately $10 million that was incurred between October 2017 and March of this year. Laura Jarrett, CNN, "Russia investigation cost nears $17 million since last May," 31 May 2018 In 2016 expenses were incurred by one of Donald J. Trump’s attorneys, Michael Cohen,’’ Trump reported in a footnote to his official Personal Financial Disclosure report, required of top federal officials. ‘‘Mr. BostonGlobe.com, "Trump reports apparent Daniels reimbursement in disclosure filing," 17 May 2018 Contract Nursing Home: Veterans receive monthly disability compensation if it is deemed by the VA that they were disabled by an injury or illness that was incurred or aggravated during active military service. Michele Parente, sandiegouniontribune.com, "What military caregivers need to know about navigating the VA," 27 Apr. 2018 The nature of the display is at the discretion of the schools and to the extent that all schools choose to use paper signs, only minimal costs would be incurred, the office added. Wilborn P. Nobles Iii, NOLA.com, "Louisiana's 'In God We Trust' school bill receives Senate's blessing," 11 Apr. 2018 Basically, these are the costs that are commonly incurred by businesses similar to yours and readily justifiable as needed to run your operations. Tom Cooney And Crystal Faulkner, Cincinnati.com, "Tax tips for the self-employed," 22 Mar. 2018 The victim had not opened a new account and upon inquiring with the issuing bank learned that over $1400 in charges had already been incurred. Houston Chronicle, "Memorial Villages police report," 27 Feb. 2018

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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Statistics for incur

Last Updated

4 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for incur

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

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More Definitions for incur

incur

verb

English Language Learners Definition of incur

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

incur

verb
in·​cur | \in-ˈkər \
incurred; incurring

Kids Definition of incur

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

in·​cur | \in-ˈkər \
incurred; incurring

Legal Definition of incur 

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

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Comments on incur

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