Let's say a festival is a en "event" that is organised every year, so it's (a recurring event). But that festival in 2017 happened on a precise range of dates is an event to (an event occurrence).

In English, by chance, are there two distinct single names that could help distinguishing a (recurring) event and an event (occurrence)?

(This question was triggered when thinking of names for tables in a database so I can't use twice the same word. My mother language is French, and I think that I would have the same issue in French.)

  • Without any other context, the "occurrence" meaning will be assumed. "There's an event downtown! Do you want to go?" It's the other meaning that has to be explicitly stated: "every year", "monthly", "annual", "recurring" and so on. Of course, in certain contexts (e.g. a wp_cron database!), an "event" might be recurring by nature. Jun 16, 2017 at 13:49
  • I think the default is the recurring event unless a specific instance is identified by the context (e.g. by interaction or by a time reference). E.g. "he's going to the festival" - specifies by interaction; "this year's festival" - specifies by time reference; "the wildflower festival always shows off beautiful blooms" - recurring.
    – Lawrence
    Jun 16, 2017 at 14:19
  • @Lawrence Perhaps if you use the word "festival", but I'm thinking of "event". :) Also, the use of a definite or indefinite article seems to have something to do with it. Jun 16, 2017 at 15:35
  • Is your intent to create a table that stores the abstract events and one that stores instantiated events where an instantiated event has a foreign key back to the abstract event table and each instantiated event has columns that hold information about a specific event occurrence?
    – Neoheurist
    Jun 16, 2017 at 20:43
  • @Luke I was using the word the OP chose for their example.
    – Lawrence
    Jun 16, 2017 at 23:22

3 Answers 3


As far as I'm aware there isn't a single word that can be used to describe and define an event as being either a recurring event, a one-off event, or a particular instance of a recurring event.

To be explicit in describing a recurring event, it would be usual to add the period of repetition, e.g. the daily / nightly / weekly / monthly / yearly / annual / biannual... event / festival / fair / party....

To describe an event as one that does not repeat, you would say that it is one-off, unique, or in some cases pop-up (e.g. pop-up shop).

Describing a particular instance of a recurring event would often largely rely on context, or would use a possessive description such as this year's (e.g. This year's fair has been moved from the square to the park).


The word recurrence or recurrency can be used to describe the property of an event recurring or not. "No recurrence" would mean the event happens once. "Recurrence of this event is every year on the same date" is a valid statement, as is "This event has a recurrency of every 2 years."

So you can say things like this:

The recurrency of event "Party" is every year. The name of this recurrency instance is "Party_Recurrency". The occurrence for event "Party" that is on January 2nd, 2018 is linked to and created by recurrency "Party_Recurrency".

January 2nd, 2018 contains an occurrence for event "Party", created by linked recurrency "Party_Recurrency."


We've taken to calling these 'cadence' meetings.

  • 1
    Hello Nathan. Welcome to ELL. This is a very helpful term. Do you mind adding some examples to support your context? You can even consider adding the dictionary meaning for the same in your answer. Nov 19, 2020 at 15:48

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