re·​cur·​rent | \ ri-ˈkər-ənt How to pronounce recurrent (audio) , -ˈkə-rənt \

Definition of recurrent

1 : running or turning back in a direction opposite to a former course used of various nerves and branches of vessels in the arms and legs
2 : returning or happening time after time recurrent complaints

Other Words from recurrent

recurrently adverb

Recurrent vs. Recurring

Is there a difference between recurring and recurrent? As is so often the case with nearly identical words, the answer is "yes and no." Both words are most commonly used in the sense "happening time after time." But recurrent, the more commonly-used of the two, tends to appear more often in medical contexts, as in “recurrent fevers” or “recurrent cancer.” It also has a specialized anatomical sense, "running or turning back in a direction opposite to a former course,” as in “a recurrent artery,” that recurring does not share. There are certainly circumstances in which either recurrent or recurring could be used; pain or needs might be described as either recurrent or recurring. But even in such cases, there may be subtle differences which you may wish to pay attention to. Recurrent tends to suggest a coming back of something that has existed before, whereas recurring often implies simply a repeated occurrence.

Examples of recurrent in a Sentence

The loss of innocence is a recurrent theme in his stories. had recurrent problems with the computer for months and finally junked it
Recent Examples on the Web Book 3, which, at nearly 350 pages, constitutes almost half of the entire novel, tells the story of a United States that slides into a totalitarian dictatorship in response to recurrent pandemics and climate disasters. Jordan Kisner, The Atlantic, 21 Dec. 2021 So this was a recurrent infection in a young woman whose immune system was already compromised. New York Times, 27 Apr. 2022 The recurrent image of Cypress Hill lost in a haze of THC masks a musical legacy dense with innovative, bracing sounds and snapshots of a city on the cusp of breakdown. Randall Roberts, Los Angeles Times, 20 Apr. 2022 Thus, stocking up on food was a recurrent family adventure, in which the goal was to spend every single dime while ensuring that the food would last until the next paycheck arrived. Rodrigo Zeidan And Melissa Nogueira, CNN, 12 Apr. 2022 Gottfried's representative said his recurrent heart rhythm problem was due to myotonic dystrophy type II. CBS News, 12 Apr. 2022 Perhaps most fascinating to such an audience will be the recurrent Americanisms in it—including an appearance by Al Capone and references to the likes of Huckleberry Finn, Bill Clinton, and the John F. Kennedy assassination. Courtney Sender, The Atlantic, 6 Apr. 2022 The situation in the DRC is recurrent in different parts of the country, with conflict being caused by armed groups interested in minerals, as well as ethnic, cultural, religious, and political rivalries. Carlos Mureithi, Quartz, 31 Mar. 2022 The notion of trust was recurrent throughout the panel discussion. Lise Pedersen, Variety, 30 Mar. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'recurrent.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of recurrent

1578, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for recurrent

borrowed from Latin recurrent-, recurrens, present participle of recurrere "to run back, run in the opposite direction, return" — more at recur

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Time Traveler for recurrent

Time Traveler

The first known use of recurrent was in 1578

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Dictionary Entries Near recurrent

recurrence formula


recurrent nova

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Last Updated

31 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Recurrent.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for recurrent


re·​cur·​rent | \ ri-ˈkər-ənt How to pronounce recurrent (audio) \

Kids Definition of recurrent

: happening or appearing again and again a recurrent infection


re·​cur·​rent | \ -ˈkər-ənt, -ˈkə-rənt How to pronounce recurrent (audio) \

Medical Definition of recurrent

1 : running or turning back in a direction opposite to a former course used of various nerves and branches of vessels in the arms and legs
2 : returning or happening time after time recurrent pain

Other Words from recurrent

recurrently adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on recurrent

Nglish: Translation of recurrent for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of recurrent for Arabic Speakers


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