oc·​cur | \ə-ˈkər \
occurred; occurring\ə-​ˈkər-​iŋ, -​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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

The walkouts occurred at dozens of Google’s offices around the world today, according to organizers, in one of the largest public showings of tech worker activism to date. Shirin Ghaffary, Recode, "Google’s giant employee walkouts are one of the strongest showings of tech worker activism yet," 1 Nov. 2018 This sector is where a huge portion of U.S. business innovation occurs. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "The unheralded success of flyover states," 18 Oct. 2018 According to Daily Mail UK, the last time this occurred was in 1926, when Queen Elizabeth II was born. Taylor Mead, House Beautiful, "Will Meghan Markle And Prince Harry’s Baby Be Born At Home? Plus, Other Bizarre Royal Birthing Rules," 15 Oct. 2018 In 2017, Matt was injured in a freak accident in Browntown when an explosion occurred just hours after the Alaskan Bush People crew left for the day. Megan Friedman, Country Living, "‘Alaskan Bush People' Cast: How Well Do You Know the Brown Family?," 23 Sep. 2018 The shortage occurred in late 1941, two years after the start of World War II. Tim Folger, Discover Magazine, "Chance Encounters," 17 Aug. 2018 The shooting occurred around 2:25 a.m. July 9, Aurora police said in a post on Facebook. Staff Report, Aurora Beacon-News, "Home hit by gunfire in Aurora," 14 July 2018 In the first shooting, which occurred about 8:45 p.m. Friday, a 38-year-old man was shot inside a home in the 20000 block of Charest, on the city's east side. Lori Higgins, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Police investigate two fatal shootings on city's east side," 14 July 2018 Who must be there for the change to occur, and who shouldn’t be there? Laura Vanderkam, WSJ, "What to Give: Business Books," 15 Nov. 2018

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.

See More

First Known Use of occur

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for occur

Latin occurrere, from ob- in the way + currere to run — more at ob-, car

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about occur

Statistics for occur

Last Updated

5 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for occur

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for occur



English Language Learners Definition of occur

: to happen

: to appear or exist : to be found


oc·​cur | \ə-ˈkər \
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.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on occur

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with occur

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for occur

Spanish Central: Translation of occur

Nglish: Translation of occur for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of occur for Arabic Speakers

Comments on occur

What made you want to look up occur? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a soft lustrous wool fabric with mohair

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Late Autumn 2018 Words of the Day Quiz

  • frosted-autumn-leaves
  • Which is a synonym of yahoo?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!