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Recurring vs. Reoccurring—Which Should I Use?

Reoccur and recur are verbs that share a common root word. While they are very close in meaning, they are not the same. Something that is recurring happens over and over again, possibly at regular intervals. In contrast, something that is reoccurring is simply happening again but not always repeatedly.

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More about the difference between recur and reoccur

To understand the difference between recurring and reoccurring, we need to start with the base forms—recur and reoccur.

Recur means to happen repeatedly or after an interval. This verb comes from the Latin word recurrere, “to run back.” Here’s how it looks when used in a sentence:

The heavy snowfall recurs every winter in mountain regions.

Reoccur comes from the prefix re- and the verb occur. The prefix re- means “again” and occur means “to happen.” So, reoccur simply means “to happen again.” In a sentence, it would be used like this:

We would have arrived on time, but the plumbing problems reoccurred.

The difference between the two verbs is very slight—an event that reoccurs is an event that repeats at least one time, but not necessarily more than that. An event that recurs is an event that repeats many times.

Examples of recurring and reoccurring

Adding -ing to recur and reoccur gives you recurring and reoccurring—the words that started this discussion. Recurring is more common than reoccurring.

Complaints of aggressive gulls recur in coastal communities every summer with the birds’ behaviour blamed on defending and feeding their fledgling chicks.
The Daily Mail

We must be particularly vigilant, given that the public image of our country is still associated with certain events from the distant past, although that is not to say these events could not reoccur.
The Huffington Post

The report cited four general areas of climate-related security risks, including persistently reoccurring conditions such as flooding, drought, and higher temperatures.
National Observer

And that’s not just on mobile—in the desktop software world, companies including Microsoft and Adobe have increasingly moved to subscription models where revenue is recurring rather than a one-time purchase.

Slightly more than 10% of all patients who undergo successful surgery for prostate cancer have an elevated risk of tumor recurrence afterwards—especially as metastases.
Science Daily

A spokeswoman said: “We take the safety of our installations and the people on board very seriously and are working closely with the HSE to learn from the incident and to implement the changes required to prevent reoccurrence.”

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