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

At the time, northern Europe was primed for a break from the Holy Roman Empire, burdened by the debt incurred during the construction of St. Peter’s Basilica, in Rome. Jamie Quatro, The New Yorker, "The Hidden Life of a Forgotten Sixteenth-Century Female Poet," 5 Aug. 2019 Others will gladly do it in lieu of incurring fines or other punishment. Albert Breer, SI.com, "Pagano’s Plans for the Bears D, Lamar Jackson on the Run, Mike Tomlin’s Deal and More From Camps," 29 July 2019 It was never repaid more than $7 million of the $27.3 million in costs the city incurred during the 2017 inauguration, city officials said. Peter Jamison, BostonGlobe.com, "President Trump’s July Fourth event and protests bankrupted Washington security fund, mayor says," 10 July 2019 It was never repaid more than $7 million of the $27.3 million in costs the city incurred during the 2017 inauguration, city officials said. Peter Jamison, Anchorage Daily News, "Trump’s July Fourth event and protests emptied D.C. security fund, mayor says," 10 July 2019 It was never repaid more than $7 million of the $27.3 million in costs the city incurred during the 2017 inauguration, city officials said. oregonlive.com, "President Trump’s July Fourth event and weekend protests bankrupted Washington security fund, mayor says," 10 July 2019 It was never repaid more than $7 million of the $27.3 million in costs the city incurred during the 2017 inauguration, city officials said. The Washington Post, The Denver Post, "President Trump’s Fourth of July event and weekend protests bankrupted Washington security fund, mayor says," 10 July 2019 Often traveling on a budget, large haredi families get bargains here off season for hotels that make most of their profit from winter sports enthusiasts, and incur losses during the summer . Cnaan Liphshiz, sun-sentinel.com, "In the Swiss Alps, locals and haredi Orthodox tourists find ways to get along," 2 July 2019 The fourth-quarter results released late Tuesday sent Snap shares up more than 22% in after-hours trading, easing the pain of sizable stock losses incurred during a rough 2018 for the social-media company and its Snapchat app. Georgia Wells, WSJ, "Snap’s Revenue Jumps, Loss Narrows," 5 Feb. 2019

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

12 Aug 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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