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 The Backpack and School Supply distribution will occur Aug. 26 and Aug. 29 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Chevall Pryce, Houston Chronicle, "Cy-Fair COVID Resources: Where to find school supplies, online bill assistance and food," 7 Aug. 2020 The testing will occur between 6 and 10 p.m., police said. Sarah Brookbank, The Enquirer, "Free movies at Walmart, why you'll hear gunshots, Zoo babies, tax hike nixed - Thursday updates," 6 Aug. 2020 In making the announcement, the Big Ten acknowledged there is no guarantee competition will occur. Mark Heim | Mheim@al.com, al, "Big Ten reveals schedule details, to start as early as Sept. 5; Ohio State-Michigan moved," 5 Aug. 2020 Similar situations will occur at every high school. Michael Cabanatuan, SFChronicle.com, "Bay Area’s top high school athletes face tough decisions with dimming of Friday night lights," 1 Aug. 2020 Vistra said its $10 million commitment will occur over five years, with ongoing donations in coming years. Dom Difurio, Dallas News, "AT&T, Vistra Energy each commit $10 million to boosting economic opportunities for the underserved," 31 July 2020 On Friday, Microsoft clarified that these changes will occur in early 2021, including the Invoke—but the company will offer gift cards of up to $50 to sweeten the deal. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Microsoft will remove Cortana from Harman Kardon Invoke and Surface Headphones in 2021," 31 July 2020 This will occur within the first 50 to 90 sols, or Martian days, of the mission. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "The Perseverance rover is on its way to Mars. What's next?," 31 July 2020 No little nick-ups, injuries or anything like that will occur from preseason games. David Ginsburg, Star Tribune, "Harbaugh oversees Ravens camp under ever-changing guidelines," 30 July 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

10 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Occur.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/occur. Accessed 15 Aug. 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

Spanish Central: Translation of occur

Nglish: Translation of occur for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of occur for Arabic Speakers

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