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 hurdling (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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from hurdle


hurdler \ ˈhərd-​lər How to pronounce hurdler (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


He won a medal in the high hurdles. The company faces severe financial hurdles this year.


The horse hurdled the fence.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Banks say lengthy reviews by agencies including the Federal Reserve and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency can create hurdles for mergers that involve stock transactions. Lalita Clozel, WSJ, "Bank Mergers Get Faster Under Trump," 13 Feb. 2019 In California, these factors have converged to kill off more than 129 million trees across federal, state, and private lands, creating huge bureaucratic hurdles for managing an already immense fire risk and safety hazard. Umair Irfan, Vox, "Ryan Zinke blamed environmentalists for California’s massive wildfires. Again.," 21 Nov. 2018 This policy presents a hurdle for anyone who was hoping to walk into say, a Best Buy, and try to buy a Pixel 3 outright at full price to use on their own carrier. Chris Welch, The Verge, "Verizon’s Pixel 3 won’t work on other carriers unless activated on Verizon first," 18 Oct. 2018 One effort that may be working — or at least creating hurdles for potential bad guys — is Facebook’s updates around election advertising. Kurt Wagner, Recode, "Facebook has a plan to protect the U.S. midterms. Is it enough?," 17 Aug. 2018 Battery life remains a hurdle for advanced smartwatches, as most can't go for more than about two days before needing a charge. Valentina Palladino, Ars Technica, "Samsung’s new Galaxy Watch runs Tizen, lasts “several days” on one charge," 9 Aug. 2018 Bell said Lee seamlessly incorporated many of her own life's emotions, hurdles, and lessons into Anna's character, particularly in her songs. Alexis Jones, Harper's BAZAAR, "Frozen 2: Everything You Need to Know," 14 Feb. 2019 Overcoming the regulatory hurdles and safety issues posed by drones appears to be a challenge even for the online retail giant. Joseph Pisani, The Seattle Times, "Where are the drone deliveries? Amazon’s customers are still waiting," 3 Dec. 2018 Following Ford's testimony, the battle over Kavanaugh reached another peak as the Senate voted 51-49 on Friday to push past a procedural hurdle and advance his appointment. Julyssa Lopez, Glamour, "Brett Kavanaugh Has Been Confirmed to the Supreme Court," 6 Oct. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The 13-year-old Waters, who will be an eighth-grader at Congress in the fall, also successfully defended her county hurdles championship. Gary Curreri,, "Lady Cougars make history with first middle school track and field title," 24 June 2018 In completing this summer’s first-year player draft, the Royals have hurdled over what was arguably their biggest challenge of the 2018 season. Maria Torres, kansascity, "Dayton Moore on the Royals’ path after the draft and heading into trade season," 7 June 2018 The fastest-growing major economy in the world, India is expected to soon hurdle Britain as the globe’s fifth largest market. Carl Prine,, "India's Modri struts across world stage," 1 June 2018 As far as Carr, Humphrey should have hurdled him on the depth chart. Mike Preston,, "Preston: Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey gearing up for a big season," 24 May 2018 For King’s in 1A, Brianna Oats won both girls hurdling events, anchored the winning 4x400 relay team and was second in the long jump. David Furones,, "Anthony Schwartz runs wind-legal personal best in 100 at regionals," 26 Apr. 2018 Too fast, the shuttle would hurdle past the station. Dennis Hohenberger, Courant Community, "Astronaut Visits New England Air Museum," 17 Apr. 2018 Aside from hurdling those obstacles and changing her life, Richardson spent her spare time going inside some of the most dangerous places to teach poetry. Michael Harriot, The Root, "Renowned Poet and Activist Eccentrich Richardson Rebuilds After Heartbreaking Loss," 13 Apr. 2018 After Hurricane Ike hurdled into the Gulf Coast in 2008, the TEA created a provision changing how accountability ratings were given to districts and schools across Galveston and Houston. Shelby Webb, Houston Chronicle, "As STAAR testing begins, districts hit by Harvey unsure how scores will affect them," 5 Apr. 2018

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about hurdle

Dictionary Entries near hurdle





hurdle gate

hurdle race

hurdle racer

Statistics for hurdle

Last Updated

9 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for hurdle

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for hurdle



English Language Learners Definition of hurdle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: one of a series of barriers to be jumped over in a race
: a race in which runners must jump over hurdles
: something that makes an achievement difficult



English Language Learners Definition of hurdle (Entry 2 of 2)

: to jump over (something) while running
: to deal with (a problem or difficulty) successfully


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.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on hurdle

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with hurdle

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for hurdle

Spanish Central: Translation of hurdle

Nglish: Translation of hurdle for Spanish Speakers

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

Comments on hurdle

What made you want to look up hurdle? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to affect and impair by alcohol or a drug

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Latin Quiz

  • roman forum
  • Which of the following months comes from a Latin word for “ten”?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!