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 Managing index funds also doesn’t require a lot of operating costs, whereas actively managed funds incur higher expenses and hence have bigger expense ratios, Pina adds. Adam Shell, USA TODAY, "Is Amazon's $3,100 stock too pricey? Then try index funds if you want to invest in the market," 15 Sep. 2020 Over a five-year program, a consumer might incur a few thousand dollars in fees. Russ Wiles, The Arizona Republic, "Are you financially stressed right now? What to know about options, from debt negotiation to bankruptcy," 8 Sep. 2020 The government would incur some costs for Medicaid beneficiaries currently served by affected entities because the costs of about 45 percent of all births are paid for by the Medicaid program. Matthew Walther, TheWeek, "The dehumanizing mistreatment of poor women in America," 15 Sep. 2020 But reimbursement payments, the lawsuit says, are not related to the actual expenses the drivers incur using their vehicles. Kevin Grasha, The Enquirer, "Lawsuit: LaRosa's systematically underpays its delivery drivers," 25 Aug. 2020 Morgan said the team would then have to swallow its existing merchandise, develop a new logo, change its signage and incur additional advertising costs to explain the change to its fans, which could continue over a couple of years. Michael Mccleary, The Indianapolis Star, "Indianapolis Indians name change will be costly but necessary, marketing experts say," 17 Sep. 2020 After this season, the 49ers could trade or release Garoppolo and only incur a dead-cap hit of $1.2 million in 2021. Eric Branch, SFChronicle.com, "Dee Ford latest 49er to restructure contract; Why not Jimmy Garoppolo?," 6 Sep. 2020 The same report predicted this change will incur $2 billion per day in economic losses. David Z. Morris, Fortune, "The hottest temperature in history may have been recorded Sunday in Death Valley. Why the data is confusing," 17 Aug. 2020 The banks reviewed could incur loan losses of $560 billion to $700 billion under some scenarios, the Fed found. Washington Post, "The Fed is cracking down on big banks to guard against risk posed to the financial system from the coronavirus pandemic," 25 June 2020

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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Time Traveler for incur

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for incur

Last Updated

14 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Incur.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/incur. Accessed 20 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for incur

incur

verb
How to pronounce incur (audio)

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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Comments on incur

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