Posted by: episystechpubs | September 9, 2014

Editor’s Corner: A Recurring Issue

My dear Editor’s Corner readers,

How I miss you! I am still serving at the pleasure of Judge Judith Sheindlin (okay, it’s not really her) down at the courthouse. I had some big plans to get into a discussion of modal verbs, but there’s no time for that yet.

Instead, I will address a question I received twice in the last week. The question is: When you are talking about something that happens over and over again, is the word recurring or reoccurring?

According to Merriam-Webster:


· to go back in thought or discourse

· to come up again for consideration

· to come again to mind

· to occur again after an interval: occurs time after time

As far as reoccur, it is not defined in Merriam-Webster as a single word, but as the prefix re plus the root word occur. We are left to assume it means "to occur again," but some resources say there is a distinction between the two.

From The Grammarist:

Recur vs. reoccur

· Something that recurs happens repeatedly, perhaps at regular intervals.

· Something that reoccurs happens again, but not necessarily repeatedly or at regular intervals.

For example, the sunrise recurs, and an unpredictable event that happens to occur more than once—such as an earthquake or a financial crisis—reoccurs.

More examples:


· Fresh off Golden Globe and SAG Award victories, the HBO drama will add this British actor in a recurring role on season two. [TV Fanatic]

· Seizures might recur as many as a hundred times a day. [Kilgore News Herald]


· In our view, Haiti’s traumatic crises will continue to reoccur unless resulting social, economic, and geographic imbalances are fundamentally changed. [Foreign

In many circles, reoccurring is considered incorrect; some people think it is simply awkward. If you want to be safe, stick with recurring.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

619-542-6773 | Ext: 766773

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