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 Is Gleeson's ulterior motive to vindicate his friend's case and reputation over a fair appraisal of what has occurred here? Paul Bedard, Washington Examiner, "Michael Flynn judge refused outside opinions he now seeks," 1 June 2020 This, after the city alerted residents of reckless driving occurring across the city after curfews were in place. Evan Casey, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "As reckless late night driving continues, Wauwatosa enacts another curfew Monday night," 1 June 2020 Michigan's 2021 class now has 17 commitments, 15 of which have occurred since the coronavirus outbreak began in mid-March and halted all in-person recruiting. Orion Sang, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan football gets fourth offensive lineman commitment in Tristan Bounds," 1 June 2020 My fraternity brother would not agree with what occurred last night. Sarah Haselhorst, Cincinnati.com, "'We can't just say everything is fine.' Council members respond to protests," 30 May 2020 The video of the arrest, which occurred after Floyd allegedly used a counterfeit bill at a convenience store, sparked an outcry and has led to more urgent demands for police to be held accountable. Obed Manuel, Dallas News, "Protesters at Dallas City Hall say, ‘No more’ and focus message on police brutality," 30 May 2020 The Space Force’s 45th Weather Squadron, the group responsible for monitoring the weather around the launchpad, predicts only a 50 percent chance that the launch will occur today. Daniel Oberhaus, Wired, "SpaceX Launched Two Astronauts—Changing Spaceflight Forever," 30 May 2020 This likely occurs during spawning, when the fish are in close proximity to each other, but nothing has yet been proven. Joe Genzel, Outdoor Life, "10 Common Parasites and Diseases Found in Game Fish (and What You Need to Know About Them)," 27 May 2020 The glow, known as bioluminescence, can be seen with regularity in a few Caribbean lagoons and other spots around the world—but hardly anybody knows that this vibrant version of it also occurs along the Space Coast. National Geographic, "See the Full Archive," 26 May 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

5 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Occur.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/occur. Accessed 5 Jun. 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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