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Reoccurring vs. Recurring — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Updated on August 22, 2023
Reoccurring happens periodically, while recurring happens repeatedly in regular or predictable intervals.
Reoccurring vs. Recurring — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Reoccurring and Recurring


Key Differences

Reoccurring refers to events that happen periodically without a specific pattern. It's more like something that happens occasionally but not necessarily with regularity. On the other hand, recurring denotes events that take place repeatedly, often in a predictable or regular pattern. If something is recurring, one can expect it to happen at regular intervals.
Both reoccurring and recurring indicate that an event or situation happens more than once. However, the emphasis is slightly different. With reoccurring, the emphasis is on the event happening again but not necessarily in a patterned way. In contrast, recurring implies a more systematic or patterned repetition.
To further illustrate, imagine unpredictable tech glitches in software. If a certain glitch happens occasionally but not regularly, it's reoccurring. But if a system update takes place on the first of every month, then that's a recurring event. Both words are useful in describing repetition, but they carry different nuances in terms of predictability and regularity.

Comparison Chart


Happens occasionally, no fixed pattern.
Happens regularly, in a predictable manner.


Unpredictable repetition.
Predictable repetition.


Best for sporadic events.
Best for systematic events.


May or may not happen with consistency.
Almost always happens with consistency.


Random power outages.
Monthly subscription charges.

Compare with Definitions


Present participle of reoccur


Happening repeatedly in regular intervals.
He has recurring appointments every Tuesday.


Happening periodically without a specific pattern.
Unexpected migraines have been reoccurring for her lately.


Taking place again at consistent, predictable times.
The monthly staff meeting is a recurring event.


Taking place again, but not at regular intervals.
His dreams about the event have been reoccurring randomly.


Occurring over and over, systematically.
Recurring dreams often have deeper meanings.


Arising or appearing again, sporadically.
There were reoccurring issues in the old software version.


Regularly returning or happening again.
She has a recurring role in the TV series.


Manifesting every once in a while, without regularity.
Her bouts of sadness were reoccurring but infrequent.


To return to one's attention or memory
The thought recurred to her late at night.


Occurring again without predictable timing.
The film's reoccurring motifs catch the viewer by surprise.


(Archaic) To have recourse; resort
"When ... direct taxes are not necessary, they will not be recurred to" (James Madison).


Present participle of recur


Happening or occurring frequently, with repetition.
He has recurring asthma attacks.
Revenge is a recurring theme in this novel.


A recurrence; a coming round again.


To happen or occur again or repeatedly
The pain recurred after eating.


To return in thought or discourse
He recurred to the subject right after dinner.


(mathematics) Of a decimal: having a set of digits that is repeated indefinitely.
Every rational number can be written as either a terminating decimal or a recurring decimal.


Coming back;
A revenant ghost


Happening repeatedly, usually at the same time.
The alarm has a recurring snooze option.

Common Curiosities

Is reoccurring the same as recurring?

While both terms indicate repetition, reoccurring refers to events that happen periodically without a predictable pattern, whereas recurring denotes events that occur repeatedly in regular or predictable intervals.

Does reoccurring mean it happens only twice?

No, reoccurring means something happens again, but it doesn't specify how many times.

Can I use reoccurring and recurring interchangeably?

Although used interchangeably, it's best to use them based on the nuance you want to convey. Recurring is more systematic, while reoccurring is more sporadic.

Which term is more common in everyday language?

Recurring is more commonly used, especially in contexts like recurring payments, meetings, or roles in media.

Do dictionaries differentiate between reoccurring and recurring?

Most dictionaries list both words, but some might emphasize recurring as the more standard term.

Are there contexts where only one of the terms should be used?

Recurring is often used in formal and technical contexts, like recurring charges or payments, while reoccurring might be more suited for sporadic events.

Which term is older, reoccurring or recurring?

"Recurring" is the older term and has been in use for a longer time.

How can I remember the difference between reoccurring and recurring?

Think of "recurring" as regular and "reoccurring" as random.

Is it grammatically incorrect to use reoccurring when I mean recurring?

While not strictly incorrect, it's better to use the word that most accurately captures the nuance you intend.

Does English have other pairs of words like reoccurring and recurring that are similar yet distinct?

Yes, English has many such pairs. For example, historic vs. historical, affect vs. effect, and insinuate vs. insulate are pairs where each word has a slightly different meaning or usage.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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