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

Disney has agreed to pay the debt that Fox would incur buying the remaining 61%, should Fox be allowed to consolidate Sky. Meg James, latimes.com, "Comcast offers $34 billion for Sky TV, topping a bid from Fox," 11 July 2018 The fine would rise to $50 on the fourth offense, while failure to pay within 21 days would incur a $20 late charge. David Ibata, ajc, "Sandy Springs sets parking fines at City Springs," 29 May 2018 According to Slate and the documents the site reviewed, the administration reportedly would pay for additional costs incurred by taking money from the budget of a critical HIV/AIDS treatment program. Elly Belle, Teen Vogue, "Trump Could Reportedly Detain More Immigrant Children at the Expense of HIV/AIDS Care," 11 July 2018 Why are so many Irish emigrants willing to travel, some over 9,000 miles, and incur a huge personal expense just to vote yes? Chloe Mac Donnell, Glamour, "For These Women, Traveling Over 9,000 Miles to Vote in Ireland's Abortion Referendum Isn't a Burden—It's a Necessity," 24 May 2018 Mixing in strange quarks incurs a bigger energy penalty than previously thought, so high that cold quark matter should consist of just up and down quarks, the researchers report in a paper in press at Physical Review Letters. Adrian Cho, Science | AAAS, "Weird new form of nuclear matter might lie just beyond experimenters' grasp," 15 May 2018 In late 2016, the State Department sought permission and funding to cover the debt incurred by the U.S. Expo Milano Pavilion in the 2017 appropriations bill, but authorization language was not included in the final legislation. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "U.S. Pavilion for 2015 World Expo still has $26M in unpaid debts," 26 Mar. 2018 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

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

7 Oct 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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