re·​cur·​ring ri-ˈkər-iŋ How to pronounce recurring (audio)
: occurring repeatedly : happening or appearing multiple times
a recurring dream
recurring themes in an artist's work
He had missed 21 games with recurring back problems during the season and felt he had taken undue heat for it.Austin Murphy
recurringly adverb
a problem faced recurringly

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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 recurring in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Despite its nuclear construction challenges, the company posted 5.6 percent higher 2022 earnings from 2021 excluding non-recurring items. Roger Conrad, Forbes, 23 Feb. 2023 Earlier this week, Warrior Met reported business interruption expenses were $6.9 million in the third quarter, which were non-recurring expenses directly attributable to the strike, the company said. William Thornton |, al, 4 Nov. 2021 That’s the term for communities that have solved homelessness for a particular population, with systems comprehensive enough to assure that homelessness is rare, brief, and non-recurring. Joe Mathews, San Francisco Chronicle, 4 Mar. 2021

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

Word History


from present participle of recur

First Known Use

circa 1512, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of recurring was circa 1512

Dictionary Entries Near recurring

Cite this Entry

“Recurring.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Feb. 2024.

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