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 Most of the fires burning in Western Oregon today were not caused by lightning, which doesn’t occur during the atmospheric conditions in place Monday. oregonlive, "Oregon’s historic wildfires: the unprecedented was predictable," 12 Sep. 2020 Some horrific blazes caused by PG&E power lines during dry windstorms did not occur until October and November. Michael Williams, SFChronicle.com, "New PG&E shut-offs escalate California’s record-setting wildfire season," 8 Sep. 2020 The establishment of Plymouth did not occur in a vacuum. Peter C. Mancall, The Conversation, "The complicated legacy of the Pilgrims is finally coming to light 400 years after they landed in Plymouth," 4 Sep. 2020 The incident officers were investigating did not occur at the school. Madeline Mitchell, The Enquirer, "Police: 2 students arrested in Lakota West High School parking lot during search warrant execution," 28 Aug. 2020 That may not occur until a vaccine is widely available, possibly by mid-next year. Paul Davidson, USA TODAY, "More temporary layoffs could become permanent, prolonging recovery from COVID-19 slump," 27 Aug. 2020 If confirmations do not occur, all names must be nominated again by the Dunleavy administration in the upcoming legislative session. Anchorage Daily News, "California startup turns Bristol Bay salmon skins into a fried snack," 25 Aug. 2020 The healing won’t occur overnight, but it can and must be improved by working together. Jr Radcliffe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Prominent figures react to the Jacob Blake shooting in Kenosha, including Joe Biden," 24 Aug. 2020 Thomas football game would not occur as scheduled in November because the fall college season has been canceled. Rochelle Olson, Star Tribune, "Vikings trying to get fans into the seats at U.S. Bank Stadium this season - probably not for opener," 20 Aug. 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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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

15 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Occur.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/occur. Accessed 21 Sep. 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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Comments on occur

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