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This video (from 8 min.53 sec.) shows that the verb recur is often pronounced as reoccur, and the host of the show explains this as a case of a mispronunciation: there's no such word as "reoccur" and what may be pronounced as "reoccur" should be pronounced as "recur".

It seems that either the speakers don't see any difference between the two verbs, or this difference is far too small to be taken into account.

At the same time, the entries for both reoccur and recur, and for the relating nouns recurrence and reoccurrence (the same links) can be found in some of the dictionaries; the WordWebPro off-line dictionary is among them.

The question is this:

If there is a fine difference in the use of the verbs recur and reoccur and of the nouns recurrence and reoccurrence, what is it?

  • The guy on the left is just flat out wrong when he says "reoccured is not a word." This has to call into question the rest of the information (or is it misinformation) given in the video. Your best bet regarding pronunciation is a good dictionary, coupled with forvo.com for variations. – Alan Carmack Aug 1 '16 at 13:20
  • @AlanCarmack - Thanks, Alan, for one more useful link provided by you; it's been bookmarked. – VictorB Aug 1 '16 at 15:47
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They are separate words.

Something reoccurs if it happens more than once.

Something recurs if it happens more than once and at a regular interval. A good example would be your electricity bill – most people pay monthly or every quarter, and so they have a monthly-recurring or quarterly-recurring bill.


Compare these dictionary definitions (from Oxford Dictionaries):

reoccur
[NO OBJECT]
Occur again or repeatedly:
"ulcers tend to reoccur after treatment has stopped"

recur
[NO OBJECT]
Occur again periodically or repeatedly:
"when the symptoms recurred, the doctor diagnosed something different"
(as adjective recurring) "a recurring theme"

As you can see from the definitions, there is some overlap. In general conversation I would not be surprised to hear recur and reoccur used interchangeably. In formal or professional correspondence (like a bill), however, I would expect the words to be used as described in the first part of my answer.

  • +1 I suggest mentioning which dictionary you cite, since you are quoting from it. Also, it's nice to know which dictionary you're referring to without having to click on the link(s). – Alan Carmack Aug 1 '16 at 13:07
  • 1
    @AlanCarmack: Thanks for the suggestion, I've added a note about it. – LMS Aug 1 '16 at 13:33
  • 1
    Also, a recurring dream/nightmare, drinking bout, feature, motif, problem etc. A really good answer; thanks a lot. – VictorB Aug 2 '16 at 20:57

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