Recurring vs Reoccurring: Understanding the Key Differences

Certain terms can be confusing in the English language due to their similarity. Two such words are “recurring” and “reoccurring.” Though they may seem interchangeable, they carry distinct meanings and usages. This article will delve into the nuances of each term and its correct usage and answer some frequently asked questions to clarify these often misunderstood words.

What Does Recurring Mean?

Recurring refers to something that happens repeatedly and at regular intervals. This term is commonly used in financial contexts, subscription models, and events. For example, a monthly magazine subscription is a recurring expense because it occurs every month.

Examples of Recurring:

  • Recurring Payments: These are payments made at regular intervals, such as monthly rent or subscription fees.
  • Recurring Events include annual conferences, weekly meetings, or monthly newsletters.
  • Recurring Themes: Themes or motifs in literature or films that appear consistently throughout the work.

What Does Reoccurring Mean?

Reoccurring means something happens again, but not necessarily at regular intervals. It emphasizes the occurrence of an event without the predictability or regularity implied by “recurring.” For instance, if a technical issue arises sporadically, it is reoccurring.

Examples of Recurring:

  • Reoccurring Issues: Problems that arise occasionally without a set pattern, such as intermittent software bugs.
  • Reoccurring Dreams: Dreams that happen multiple times but without a regular schedule.
  • Reoccurring Events: Events that occur more than once but not predictably, like sporadic family reunions.

Critical Differences Between Recurring and Reoccurring

Understanding the distinction between recurring and reoccurring is crucial for accurate communication:

  • Regularity: Recurring implies regular, predictable intervals; reoccurring does not.
  • Usage Context: Recurring is often used in contexts involving schedules, finances, and events. Reoccurring is used for less predictable, sporadic occurrences.
  • Predictability: Recurring events are expected and planned; reoccurring events are not necessarily expected and can be random.

How to Use Recurring and Reoccurring Correctly

Tips for Using Recurring:

  • Use for scheduled, regular events or payments.
  • Apply in financial contexts, such as billing cycles or subscription services.
  • Employ when describing patterns or themes that appear consistently.

Tips for Using Reoccurring:

  • Use for events or issues that happen multiple times without a fixed schedule.
  • Apply when describing intermittent problems or occurrences.
  • Employ when the frequency is random or unpredictable.


Q: Can recurring and reoccurring be used interchangeably?

A: No, recurring and reoccurring should not be used interchangeably as they imply different frequencies and predictabilities. Recurring indicates regularity, while reoccurring does not.

Q: Is “reoccurring” a commonly accepted term?

A: While “reoccurring” is less commonly used than “recurring,” it is still a valid term that describes events happening more than once without regularity.

Q: Can a recurring event become a reoccurring event?

A: If an event that was initially regular and predictable starts happening sporadically, it can be described as reoccurring.

Q: What is an example of a recurring expense?

A: A recurring expense could be a monthly gym membership fee or a weekly grocery bill.

Q: How can I remember the difference between recurring and reoccurring?

A: A helpful way to remember is that “recurring” contains “cur,” which sounds like “current,” implying regular and current intervals. “Reoccurring” contains “occur,” focusing on the event happening again without implying regularity.


Understanding the difference between recurring and reoccurring events and expenses is essential for precise communication. Recurring events and expenses happen at regular, predictable intervals, making planning easy. On the other hand, reoccurring events and issues lack this regularity and can occur sporadically. By mastering these distinctions, you can enhance your clarity and accuracy in writing and speech.


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