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 Two fatal incidents occurred on Interstate 95 in Attleboro around the same time late Monday night, State Police said in a statement. BostonGlobe.com, "Two fatal incidents occurred on Interstate 95 in Attleboro around the same time late Monday night, State Police said in a statement.," 17 Sep. 2019 These alternate-site classes occur throughout the week and vary in length. Carol Kovach, cleveland.com, "Tri-C’s Encore Campus, Neighborhood Scholars programs enrich older adults: Sun Postings," 17 Sep. 2019 Since then, considerable development has occurred in the region. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "The worst US cyclone this year may be a weak tropical storm [Updated]," 17 Sep. 2019 Two have already occurred — on Lake Wood in 2016 and on Lake Dunlap in May. The GBRA is concerned, though no one has been injured yet, that the next failure could prove deadly. Josh Baugh, ExpressNews.com, "No ‘Big Drain’ yet for the Guadalupe River lakes," 16 Sep. 2019 Errors can occur, given that the benefits calculation involves multiple variables and complex data. San Diego Union-Tribune, "17 ways to get more from Social Security," 16 Sep. 2019 An average of 234 earthquakes with magnitudes from 3.0 to 4.0 occur each year in California and Nevada, according to a recent three-year data sample. Los Angeles Times, "Earthquake: 3.8 quake near Coachella, Calif.," 16 Sep. 2019 The ligaments in Dinson’s knee weren’t completely detached and the injury didn’t occur on the nerve-side, which was promising. Tom Green | Tgreen@al.com, al, "4 years after devastating injury nearly ended his career, Jeremiah Dinson is better than ever," 16 Sep. 2019 No fatalities have occurred in Wisconsin, but six deaths have been reported in other states. Mary Spicuzza, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "'These kids have all vaped': Wisconsin doctors describe how they uncovered a sudden surge of mystery lung illnesses," 16 Sep. 2019

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

Statistics for occur

Last Updated

24 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for occur

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

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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

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