Word Choice – Recur Versus Reoccur

Paul’s question: “What is the difference between ‘recur’ and ‘reoccur’?”

BizWritingTip response: If you say something recurs you are saying the event happens repeatedly – at regular intervals.

Example
We see a recurrence of flu symptoms in our patients beginning in December. (Flu happens every year.)
How should we handle the recurring problem of all staff wanting to take their vacations during the March break? (Happens every year.)

When you say something reoccurs, you are indicating it has happened before but not at a regular interval. In other words, the timing is unpredictable.

Example
He has reoccurring back pain. (It comes at the most inconvenient times.)
Complaints about the cleanliness of the staff kitchen have reoccurred. (Although the problem was thought to be solved, it has resurfaced.)

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