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 toll revenue would be used to pay off debt the state would likely incur to buy out Cintra. The $647 million I-77 toll lane project is scheduled to open by the end of the year. Steve Harrison, charlotteobserver, "I-77 group wants to make one toll lane free. But will legislators get in the way?," 4 June 2018 Once the points are used, the card issuer incurs an expense. Adam Shell, USA TODAY, "Credit card holders at JPMorgan rush to cash in their rewards points," 13 July 2018 Some cities may incur only modest costs or even save money from going renewable, according to analyses prepared for different cities and utilities, making the decision an easy call. Justin Worland/pueblo, Time, "How One Industrial City Is Fighting to Go Green," 12 July 2018 If the object is more likely to require the use of cash flows (incur expenses) throughout its life, then it should be categorized as a liability. Eduardo Gruener, miamiherald, "No, your house is not an investment," 9 July 2018 And of the more than 30 countries represented at the ceremony, many of them — including Mexico, Iran and Canada — have repeatedly incurred the president’s ire. Emily Cochrane, New York Times, "Immigrants Take Oath at Monticello, Feeling the Weight of the Past," 4 July 2018 Also for the year ended in May, Tinley Park had video gambling revenue of $429,000, with customers at businesses offering the machines spending $32.1 million and incurring total losses of $8.6 million, according to state figures. Mike Nolan, Daily Southtown, "Annexation hearing scheduled for gas station that wants 24/7 gambling," 4 July 2018 Kennedy also incurred conservative outrage over his outspoken public opposition to a House bill imposing tough mandatory minimum prison terms for certain criminal offenses. Bill Mears, Fox News, "Anthony Kennedy: Swing justice wielded quiet power in a range of high-profile cases," 27 June 2018 In recent years, the institute has incurred repeated annual deficits that have reached as high as the $20 million range. Bradley J. Fikes, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Scripps Research, AbbVie join in large cancer therapy alliance," 25 June 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

9 Sep 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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