re·​cur·​ring | \ ri-ˈkər-iŋ How to pronounce recurring (audio) , -ˈkə-riŋ \

Definition of recurring

: 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

Other Words from recurring

recurringly adverb
a problem faced recurringly

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.

First Known Use of recurring

circa 1512, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for recurring

from present participle of recur

Learn More About recurring

Time Traveler for recurring

Time Traveler

The first known use of recurring was circa 1512

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near recurring

recurrent nova


recurring decimal

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for recurring

Cite this Entry

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

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon


Test Your Vocabulary

Words Named After People

  • name tags
  • Namesake of the leotard, Jules Léotard had what profession?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!