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

Some merchants fear incurring Amazon’s wrath by cooperating with the agency. BostonGlobe.com, "Amazon probed by US antitrust officials over marketplace - The Boston Globe," 12 Sep. 2019 Some merchants fear incurring Amazon’s wrath by cooperating with the agency. Los Angeles Times, "FTC interviews merchants in Amazon antitrust probe," 11 Sep. 2019 Taipan is just the latest in a long string of companies that have incurred the wrath of Chinese state media and consumers for having allegedly offended political sensibilities. Mary Hui, Quartz, "A savory symbol of family reunion has been dragged into Hong Kong-China politics," 6 Sep. 2019 The newspaper had incurred the Nazi leader’s wrath with its publication of embarrassing secrets about the Nazis and of documents leaked to the Post revealing Hitler’s nefarious plans. Washington Post, "AP BOOK EXCERPT: The ‘Enemy of the People’," 1 Sep. 2019 Barcelona will subsequently need to include at least one of their own players in a swap-deal with PSG, so as not to incur the wrath of the Financial Fair Play committee. SI.com, "Report: Neymar Still Convinced of PSG Summer Exit as Barcelona Works on Potential Deal," 18 Aug. 2019 Sunday's practice was big on situational work, including onside kicks and burning the final few seconds of the game, and the Lions did something early on — maybe going to the ground too often? — to incur Patricia's wrath. Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press, "Lions observations: The more training camp reps the merrier for Darius Slay," 4 Aug. 2019 Defiance—from subjects, family or rivals—incurred his wrath. William Anthony Hay, WSJ, "‘Emperor’ Review: A Sovereign on the Move," 21 June 2019 The Rams lost two offensive starters: right guard Austin Blythe injured his ankle in the first half, and tight end Tyler Higbee incurred a chest injury early in the second half. oregonlive, "Los Angeles Rams dominate the New Orleans Saints: Recap, score, stats and more," 15 Sep. 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

7 Oct 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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