oc·​cur·​rence ə-ˈkər-ən(t)s How to pronounce occurrence (audio)
: something that occurs
a startling occurrence
Lightning is a natural occurrence.
: the action or fact of happening or occurring
often used with of
the repeated occurrence of petty theft in the locker room
Choose the Right Synonym for occurrence

occurrence, event, incident, episode, circumstance mean something that happens or takes place.

occurrence may apply to a happening without intent, volition, or plan.

an encounter that was a chance occurrence

event usually implies an occurrence of some importance and frequently one having antecedent cause.

the events following the assassination

incident suggests an occurrence of brief duration or secondary importance.

a minor wartime incident

episode stresses the distinctiveness or apartness of an incident.

a brief romantic episode in a life devoted to work

circumstance implies a specific detail attending an action or event as part of its setting or background.

couldn't recall the exact circumstances

Examples of occurrence in a Sentence

Getting headaches has become a common occurrence for her. the recent occurrences of the disease Lightning is a natural occurrence.
Recent Examples on the Web From this, the researchers suggest diabetes prevention and management may reduce colorectal cancer occurrence and improve prognosis, particularly in African-American people and those with low socioeconomic status. Michelle Pugle, Health, 22 Nov. 2023 Repeatedly retrieving a single object, especially for another species, isn’t a regular occurrence in the wild. Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic, 22 Nov. 2023 In recent years, street takeovers have become a regular occurrence in neighborhoods across Los Angeles County, where drivers perform stunts in the middle of busy intersections or race their vehicles in residential streets as spectators look on, posting videos on social media. Brennon Dixson, Los Angeles Times, 18 Nov. 2023 Chic tray Inspire them to make breakfast in bed a regular occurrence with this gift. Erica Finamore, wsj.com, 12 Nov. 2023 Beate, though, was a major-league gossip who seemed to keep tabs on every occurrence in town. Lucy Sante, The New Yorker, 11 Nov. 2023 The coordinated attack began with rocket fire from Gaza — a regular occurrence that caused no particular alarm among soldiers and civilians. Loveday Morris, Washington Post, 27 Oct. 2023 Some enthusiasts quickly shrug off burn-in risk as an overhyped occurrence that's irrelevant these days, but there are still accounts of burn-in happening on modern OLED monitors. Scharon Harding, Ars Technica, 3 Nov. 2023 Hanks described several occurrences in which the children were left in allegedly dangerous situations. Andrew J. Campa, Los Angeles Times, 2 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'occurrence.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


occurr(ent) entry 1 + -ence, perhaps after Middle French occurrence "circumstance"

First Known Use

1539, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of occurrence was in 1539

Dictionary Entries Near occurrence

Cite this Entry

“Occurrence.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/occurrence. Accessed 2 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


oc·​cur·​rence ə-ˈkər-ən(t)s How to pronounce occurrence (audio)
: something that occurs
: the action or process of occurring
: the presence of a natural form or material in a particular place
the occurrence of oil in Oklahoma

Legal Definition


: something that takes place
especially : an accident, event, or continuing condition that causes personal or property damage that is unintended or unexpected from the standpoint of an insured party making a claim

More from Merriam-Webster on occurrence

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