hur·​dle | \ ˈhər-dᵊl How to pronounce hurdle (audio) \

Definition of hurdle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a portable panel usually of wattled withes and stakes used especially for enclosing land or livestock
b : a frame or sled formerly used in England for dragging traitors to execution
2a : an artificial barrier over which racers must leap knocked over a hurdle
b hurdles plural, track and field : any of various events in which racers must jump over a series of hurdles won a medal in the high hurdles The hurdles is his best event.
3 : barrier, obstacle a company that faces severe financial hurdles overcame many hurdles on her way to earning her degree


hurdled; hurdling\ ˈhərd-​liŋ How to pronounce hurdle (audio) , ˈhər-​dᵊl-​iŋ \

Definition of hurdle (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to leap over especially while running (as in a sporting competition) hurdling an obstacle in a steeplechase
2 : overcome, surmount had to hurdle a series of competitive auditionsCollier's

Illustration of hurdle

Illustration of hurdle


hurdle 2a

In the meaning defined above

Other Words from hurdle


hurdler \ ˈhərd-​lər How to pronounce hurdle (audio) , ˈhər-​dᵊl-​ər \ noun

Hurdle vs. Hurtle

Indistinguishable in speech, the words hurtle and hurdle can be a confusing pair.

Hurtle is a verb with two meanings: "to move rapidly or forcefully," as in "The stone was hurtling through the air," and "to hurl or fling," as in "I hurtled the stone into the air." Note that the first use is intransitive: the stone isn't hurtling anything; it itself is simply hurtling. The second use is transitive: something was hurtled—in this case, a stone.

Hurdle is both a noun and a verb. As a noun, its most common meanings have to do with barriers: the ones that runners leap over, and the metaphorical extension of these, the figurative barriers and obstacles we try to similarly overcome. The verb hurdle has two meanings, and they are directly related to these. It can mean "to leap over especially while running," as in "She hurdled the fence," and it can mean "to overcome or surmount," as in "They've had to hurdle significant financial obstacles." The verb hurdle is always transitive; that is, there's always a thing being hurdled, whether it be a physical obstacle or a metaphorical one.

Examples of hurdle in a Sentence

Noun He won a medal in the high hurdles. The company faces severe financial hurdles this year. Verb The horse hurdled the fence.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun My hat’s off to the rest of the guys for finding a way to get over that hurdle. Jason Frakes, The Courier-Journal, 19 May 2022 Charles and Camilla still face the hurdle of getting the Queen’s official approval for their relationship—a key matter to enable Camilla to appear publicly at royal events, and potentially join the royal family. Jillian Mackenzie, Town & Country, 19 May 2022 Tallmadge exceeded last year’s run to the district semifinals by getting over that hurdle with an 8-3 win against Suburban League rival Copley. Matt Goul, cleveland, 18 May 2022 Hong Kong’s production sector has also been starved of revenues and now suffers the additional hurdle of navigating a way around a new censorship law, which places a heavy emphasis on national security issues. Patrick Frater, Variety, 18 May 2022 These students will take the for-credit course along with the extra academic assistance instead of first having to jump over the not-for-credit remedial hurdle. Michael T. Nietzel, Forbes, 27 Mar. 2022 The Hoosiers finally got over a Terrapin-sized hurdle in Assembly Hall in January — having never beaten Maryland in the team’s prior matches. Nat Newell, The Indianapolis Star, 3 Mar. 2022 Frazier, who was a state runner-up at 120 last season, pointed to Mendez’s leadership as a key reason why the Bulldogs got over the hurdle in 2022. Dave Melton,, 20 Feb. 2022 Nzenga got over this hurdle only with the help of a mentor who trusted him with money. Washington Post, 19 Nov. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb However, instead of having to overcome scientific and regulatory hurdles to become valuable, BTC Bitcoin hurdle the resistance of people and companies to using the cryptocurrency to transact business. Peter Cohan, Forbes, 3 May 2022 One defender who could keep the quarterback from further silencing the critics who had assailed his inconsistency and maddening tendency to attempt — and fail — to hurdle defenders. Ben Bolch, Los Angeles Times, 20 Nov. 2021 Labelle, too, was able to swiftly hurdle his own conundrum. Jon Blistein, Rolling Stone, 15 Nov. 2021 Once fall settles in, the holidays hurdle in quickly, with a few final opportunities for retail therapy. Sarah Madaus, SELF, 3 Nov. 2021 This is the next transportation obstacle that Walmart, and other retailers, need to hurdle. Steve Banker, Forbes, 1 Nov. 2021 Hassan tried, but failed, to hurdle over Kenya's Edinah Jebitok, who tumbled just in front of her as runners jostled for position at the start of the final lap. Gerald Imray, Star Tribune, 1 Aug. 2021 Hassan tried, but failed, to hurdle over Kenya's Edinah Jebitok, who tumbled just in front of her as runners jostled for position at the start of the final lap. Gerald Imray, Star Tribune, 1 Aug. 2021 Hassan tried, but failed, to hurdle over Kenya's Edinah Jebitok, who tumbled just in front of her as runners jostled for position at the start of the final lap. Gerald Imray, Star Tribune, 1 Aug. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hurdle.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of hurdle


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1896, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for hurdle

Noun and Verb

Middle English hurdel, from Old English hyrdel; akin to Old High German hurt hurdle, Latin cratis wickerwork, hurdle

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The first known use of hurdle was before the 12th century

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hurdle gate

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Last Updated

23 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Hurdle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for hurdle


hur·​dle | \ ˈhər-dᵊl How to pronounce hurdle (audio) \

Kids Definition of hurdle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a barrier to be jumped in a race
2 hurdles plural : a race in which runners must jump over barriers
3 : obstacle He overcame many hurdles to become successful.


hurdled; hurdling

Kids Definition of hurdle (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to leap over while running
2 : overcome sense 1 You have obstacles to hurdle before graduating.

More from Merriam-Webster on hurdle

Nglish: Translation of hurdle for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of hurdle for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about hurdle


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