oc·​cur | \ ə-ˈkər How to pronounce occur (audio) \
occurred; occurring\ ə-​ˈkər-​iŋ How to pronounce occurring (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 Winter weather that impacts public safety and transportation -- such as snow, sleet, ice -- typically occurs between Oct. 14 and April 14, according to the National Weather Service. Fox News, "Can it be too cold to snow? Why lifting of air matters," 11 Feb. 2020 What percentage occurred despite access to mechanical ventilation? Tom Inglesby, STAT, "Hospitals, governments need more data to prepare for the new coronavirus outbreak," 11 Feb. 2020 Such outsize deficits have only previous occurred during weak economies or when the country was at war. Jay Heflin, Washington Examiner, "Fed chairman warns Congress to reverse deficits now when economy is strong," 11 Feb. 2020 Of the total 1,016 deaths in China, more than 95 percent have occurred in Hubei. Simon Denyer, Washington Post, "Coronavirus live updates: Ambulances wait to take patients off virus-ravaged cruise ship," 11 Feb. 2020 Minor flooding is currently occurring along the Tennessee River, according to the National Weather Service in Huntsville. Leada Gore | Lgore@al.com, al, "Flooding in Alabama: Photos, videos show flooding; Watches, warnings in place," 10 Feb. 2020 The fire occurred in the southbound lanes at Beloit Road. Joe Taschler, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "I-43 reopens in Waukesha County after vehicle fire closed southbound lanes for a time," 10 Feb. 2020 Examine what is occurring around you before committing to taking the lead with a project. BostonGlobe.com, "Horoscope," 10 Feb. 2020 The crash occurred around 5 a.m. on the I-10 at Riggs Road by Sun Lakes and the Gila River Indian Reservation, according to DPS. Tina Giuliano, azcentral, "Driver dead after rollover on I-10 at Riggs Road near Sun Lakes," 10 Feb. 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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Learn More about occur

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

14 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Occur.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/occur. Accessed 27 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for occur


How to pronounce occur (audio)

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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with occur

Spanish Central: Translation of occur

Nglish: Translation of occur for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of occur for Arabic Speakers

Comments on occur

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