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 Pipeline welding is more specialized than residential architecture, but again, the training required need not occur at a college. Erin Valdez, National Review, "No, You Don’t ‘Have to Go to College to Become a Welder’," 2 Dec. 2019 The shooting may have occurred at another location, authorities said. Julian Gill, Houston Chronicle, "Shooting victim found dead in back seat of car in north Houston," 1 Dec. 2019 The stabbing occurred early Saturday morning at the Heinz Lofts apartment complex in the Troy Hill neighborhood, CBS Pittsburgh reports. Audrey Mcnamara, CBS News, "NFL wide receiver Terrelle Pryor arrested, recovering after being stabbed in Pittsburgh," 30 Nov. 2019 If downgrades occurred at the same rate as during the 2009 crisis, the volume of debt hitting the market could be well above the normal daily sales, the Bank of International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, warned earlier this year. Author: David J. Lynch, Anchorage Daily News, "Corporate debt nears a record $10 trillion, and borrowing binge poses new risks," 30 Nov. 2019 The first explosion occurred around 1 a.m. Wednesday at a TPC plant in Port Neches, sending large plumes of smoke into the air, stretching for miles. Fox News, "Evacuation order lifted amid Texas plant fire, blaze contained, officials say," 30 Nov. 2019 The Seoul Metropolitan Police have alleged that a litany of crimes occurred at the club, including bribery, rape, procuring women for prostitution and drug trafficking. Washington Post, "Two K-pop stars sentenced to prison for gang raping unconscious women," 29 Nov. 2019 The cuteness overload occurred this week at Saint Luke's Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri. Leah Asmelash And Melissa Alonso, CNN, "This Missouri hospital is caring for 12 sets of twins all born this week," 29 Nov. 2019 The Polk County Sheriff’s office is reporting that the altercation occurred at 10:30 a.m. on Saddlehorn Drive. Trevor Fraser, orlandosentinel.com, "Lakeland man shot by police in apparent ‘suicide-by-cop,’ according to Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd," 29 Nov. 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

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 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Occur.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/occurring?pronunciation&lang=en_us&dir=o&file=occur002. Accessed 9 December 2019.

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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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