oc·​cur | \ ə-ˈkər How to pronounce occur (audio) \
occurred; occurring\ ə-​ˈkər-​iŋ How to pronounce occur (audio) , -​ˈkə-​riŋ \

Definition of occur

intransitive verb

1 : to be found or met with : appear This bird occurs in New England in the spring.
2 : to come into existence : happen The accident occurred at 5 p.m.
3 : to come to mind an idea that has occurred to me

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The Meaning of Occur and the Spelling of Its Forms

Occur has three meanings. It means "to be found or met with; appear," as in "a phenomenon that occurs around the world"; it means "to come into existence; happen," as in "an event that occurred on Friday"; and it means "to come to mind," as in "it occurs to me that the word is quite useful."

It's an unusual-looking word, being so small but with two c's up against each other, and then just a simple r at the end. The r is doubled, though, for the past tense: occurred. And the double r continues in the present participle: occurring.

Examples of occur in a Sentence

The event is scheduled to occur at noon tomorrow. No one was ready for what was about to occur. There's a chance that a similar event will occur in the future. The disease tends to occur in children under the age of five. The plant occurs naturally throughout South America.
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Recent Examples on the Web For those traveling on Ridge, backups are more likely to occur on the two-lane road as drivers stop to make left turns onto Julia or Royalwood. Bob Sandrick, cleveland, "North Royalton to redesign confusing Ridge Road intersections at Royalwood Road, Julia Drive," 15 Feb. 2021 Over time, however, screwing and unscrewing the PCIe riser makes the issue more likely to occur, Gamers Nexus says. Brad Chacos, PCWorld, "NZXT halts H1 case sales a second time due to fire danger," 2 Feb. 2021 At the same time, as a rule, impulsive violence is less likely to occur in crowds that have some social structure and internal organization. Star Tribune, "Making sense of the 'mob' mentality," 14 Jan. 2021 At the same time, as a rule, impulsive violence is less likely to occur in crowds that have some social structure and internal organization. New York Times, "Making Sense of the ‘Mob’ Mentality," 12 Jan. 2021 But some experts said the measure may not go far enough to tide jobless workers over until vaccines are widely available, which is likely to occur in mid-2021. Aimee Picchi, CBS News, "Second stimulus check: How much will you get?," 21 Dec. 2020 The most popular time for weddings here has long been September and October — which also happen to be the months when calamitous events are most likely to occur. Esther Mobley, SFChronicle.com, "Pricey Wine Country weddings in high demand, even with fires, smoke and pandemic," 11 Dec. 2020 Republicans are gearing up for the fight, which is likely to occur in the annual negotiations over government spending. Susan Ferrechio, Washington Examiner, "Ban on federally funded abortions on chopping block next year," 10 Dec. 2020 Ackerman has never shied away from the notion that disruptions were likely to occur this season. Alexa Philippou, courant.com, "Commissioner Val Ackerman says Big East sticking with travel model but will make ‘relatively quick pivot’ to another format or a stoppage as COVID cases rise," 9 Dec. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'occur.' 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 occur

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for occur

borrowed from Latin occurrere "to run to meet, confront in a hostile manner, be met, present itself (to the mind)," from oc-, assimilated variant of ob- ob- + currere "to run, roll, move swiftly" — more at current entry 1

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Time Traveler for occur

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for occur

Last Updated

24 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Occur.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/occur. Accessed 25 Feb. 2021.

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More Definitions for occur



English Language Learners Definition of occur

somewhat formal : to happen
formal : to appear or exist : to be found


oc·​cur | \ ə-ˈkər How to pronounce occur (audio) \
occurred; occurring

Kids Definition of occur

1 : to come by or as if by chance : happen Success doesn't just occur, it is earned.
2 : to come into the mind It never occurred to me to ask.
3 : to be found or met with : appear It's a disease that occurs among cows.

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More from Merriam-Webster on occur

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for occur

Nglish: Translation of occur for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of occur for Arabic Speakers

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