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 remainder would incur tariffs for a period of up to 12 months, during which time the government plans to conduct a consultation and review its objectives for permanent tariffs. Nina Trentmann, WSJ, "U.K. Businesses See Winners and Losers in Tariff Plan," 13 Mar. 2019 The company expects to record $150 million in pretax charges in connection with the moves, most of which will be incurred this year. Sarah E. Needleman, WSJ, "Activision Blizzard to Cut Staff in Broad Restructuring," 12 Feb. 2019 On the flip side, the district listed $2 million in construction costs for the current fiscal year when the bills in fact had be incurred before June 30, 2017, auditors determined. Bethany Barnes, OregonLive.com, "Audit: Portland schools accounting in disarray, millions not properly tracked," 10 Jan. 2018 But perhaps the biggest change is one in attitude; Revel focused on high-end customers, who never showed up in sufficient enough numbers to offset the crushing debt its original owners incurred. Washington Post, "Ocean Resort Casino, formerly Revel, gets casino license," 22 June 2018 Boeing has incurred $3 billion in cost overruns getting this far, costs it was forced to absorb. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "U.S. Air Force Finally Receives First Replacements for Its 60-Year-Old Stratotankers," 28 Jan. 2019 Putting them together in the US instead would run anywhere from about $10 to $40 extra because of labor costs and the additional transportation and logistics expenses incurred of shipping parts made elsewhere to the US. Emily Stewart, Vox, "How much would the iPhone cost if it were made in America?," 21 Sep. 2018 The Queen's private income also covers any expenses incurred related to his official duties. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "Get to Know Prince Andrew, the Father of Princess Eugenie and Beatrice," 13 Aug. 2018 The Connecticut Department of Education sent Canterbury town officials a letter saying that the additional holdback of $250,000 would incur a $500,000 Education Cost Sharing penalty. Denise Coffey, Courant Community, "Canterbury Boards Battle Over Roof Replacement, Education Budget," 3 Apr. 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

8 Apr 2019

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

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.
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

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More from Merriam-Webster on incur

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with incur

Spanish Central: Translation of incur

Nglish: Translation of incur for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of incur for Arabic Speakers

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