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From Latin recurrō (run back).


  • IPA(key): /ɹɪˈkɜː(ɹ)/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɜː(ɹ)


recur (third-person singular simple present recurs, present participle recurring, simple past and past participle recurred)

  1. (intransitive) To happen again.
    The theme of the prodigal son recurs later in the third act.
    • 1928, Radclyffe Hall, chapter 52, in The Well of Loneliness[1], New York: Covici Friede, published 1932, page 477:
      The oculist had warned him that the trouble might recur, that he ought to have remained under observation. Well, it had recurred about four months ago.
    • 2007, Mohsin Hamid, chapter 4, in The Reluctant Fundamentalist[2], Toronto: Bond Street Books, page 54:
      [] in our poetry and folk songs intoxication occupies a recurring role as a facilitator of love and spiritual enlightenment.
  2. To come to the mind again.
    • 1665, John Spencer, chapter 6, in A Discourse Concerning Vulgar Prophecies[3], London: Timothy Garthwait, page 101:
      [] they have so deep a resentment [i.e. impression] of the most affecting objects, whose images therefore recur to the fancy when they are asleep
    • 1749, Henry Fielding, The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, Dublin: John Smith, Volume 3, Book 13, Chapter 2, p. 9,[4]
      [] he had heard that a Cousin of Sophia was married to a Gentleman of that Name. This, however, in the present Tumult of his Mind, never once recurred to his Memory:
    • 1847, Charlotte Brontë, chapter 2, in Jane Eyre[5], volume 3, London: Smith, Elder, page 71:
      [] I had half-forgotten my own wretched position: now it recurred to me.
    • 1992, Kim Stanley Robinson, Red Mars[6], New York: Bantam, published 1993, Part 7, p. 472:
      An image from the dream recurred to him.
  3. (dated) To speak, write or think about something again; to return or go back (to a subject).
    • 1753, Samuel Richardson, The History of Sir Charles Grandison[7], Dublin, Volume 5, Letter 33, p. 211:
      Again am I recurring to a subject I wish to quit. But since I cannot, I will give my pen its course—Pen, take thy course.
    • 1815, Jane Austen, chapter 1, in Emma[8], volume 3, London: John Murray, page 3:
      He was in high spirits; as ready to talk and laugh as ever, and seemed delighted to speak of his former visit, and recur to old stories:
    • 1904, Henry James, chapter 34, in The Golden Bowl[9], volume 2, New York: Scribner, page 204:
      I’m sorry to say any ill of your friends, and the thing was a long time ago; besides which there was nothing to make me recur to it.
    • 1993, Vikram Seth, chapter 3, in A Suitable Boy[10], London: Phoenix, published 1994, page 171:
      Over the last few days her mind had time and again recurred to these elusive beings and those few elusive comments.
  4. (obsolete) To go back to using or doing something.
    • 1796, John Stedman, chapter 1, in Narrative of a Five Years’ Expedition,[11], volume 1, London: J. Johnson, page 20:
      I contrived for some time to carry on something like a conversation with this woman, but was soon glad to put an end to it by recurring to my bottle.
    • 1859, George Eliot [pseudonym; Mary Ann Evans], chapter 31, in Adam Bede [], volumes (please specify |volume=I, II, or III), Edinburgh, London: William Blackwood and Sons, →OCLC, page 317:
      After throwing out this pregnant hint, Mr Poyser recurred to his pipe and his silence []
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  5. (obsolete) To have recourse (to someone or something) for assistance, support etc.; to turn or appeal to (someone or something).
    • 1609, Richard Smith, The Prudentiall Ballance of Religion, Saint-Omer: François Bellet, Book 1, Chapter 4, p. 29,[12]
      to shew vs by our first Apostle what account we should make of the resolution of the Sea Apostolick, and [] in all difficulties recur to her
    • 1767, Adam Ferguson, An Essay on the History of Civil Society[13], Dublin: Boulter Grierson, Part 3, Section 2, pp. 181-182:
      The barbarian [] acts from affections unacquainted with forms; and when provoked, or when engaged in disputes, he recurs to the sword, as the ultimate means of decision, in all questions of right.
    • 1891, Mary Noailles Murfree, In the "Stranger People's" Country, Nebraska, published 2005, page 43:
      She only replied with a laugh, and he evidently deemed futile the bid for sympathy on the score of religious or irreligious fellowship, for he recurred to it no more.
  6. (obsolete) To go to a location again; to return (to a place).
    • 1658, Edward Phillips, The New World of English Words[14], London: Nath. Brooke:
      Cycle of the Sun is the revolution of 28 years, Cycle of the Moon the revolution of 19 years, in which time both of their motions recur to the same point.
    • 1667, Edward Waterhouse, A Short Narrative of the Late Dreadful Fire in London, London: Richard Thrale et al., p. 133,[15]
      [] in the body natural the amputation and dock of one member forces the bloud and spirits that therein reside when fixed, to recur to the heart, and there to succour it in the absence of that part []
  7. (intransitive, computing) To recurse.


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