hur·​dle | \ ˈhər-dᵊl \

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 , 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

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Other Words from hurdle


hurdler \ ˈhərd-​lər , 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Smith was runner-up in the 100-meter hurdles twice before winning the event this season. James Weber,, "Announcing 2017-18 Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky high school Spring All-Stars," 29 June 2018 Her collection of glitter is the result of her standout efforts in the 100-meter hurdles, 200- and 400-meter dash and high jump. Gary Curreri,, "Lady Cougars make history with first middle school track and field title," 24 June 2018 In addition, Foster took fifth in the 400 hurdles in 52.94. Charles Rich,, "College Update: St. Francis product Brandt closes out college days on links," 9 June 2018 Esposito got sixth in hurdles, and the 4×800 team was sixth. Mike Owens,, "Strong senior class led Riverside boys to first sectional track title," 9 June 2018 Texas senior Pedrya Seymour finished fourth in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 13.04 seconds and sophomore Rushelle Burton took eighth. Joseph Duarte, Houston Chronicle, "UH lives up to 'Speed City' moniker at NCAA outdoor championships," 9 June 2018 Benjamin cruised to victory in the 400 hurdles in 47.02, taking down the meet record of 47.56 by Kerron Clement from 2005 and the stadium record by Kevin Young of 47.69 from 1993. Ken Goe,, "Georgia wins, records fall, the Oregon Ducks barely register in NCAA men's track," 8 June 2018 In the 110-meter hurdles, Silver Creek’s Tremain Gonzalez finished eighth. Kenzie Winstead, The Courier-Journal, "CAI's Skylar Stidam wins title in 3,200 meters at Indiana state meet," 3 June 2018 Valhalla’s Alex Lieu made the most of his second chance in the 300-meter hurdles. Steve Brand,, "Coronado jumper ends local drought at state track meet," 2 June 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.

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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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Dictionary Entries near hurdle





hurdle gate

hurdle race

hurdle racer

Statistics for hurdle

Last Updated

15 Jan 2019

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Time Traveler for hurdle

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

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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

the hurdles : 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 \

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.

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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).


a complex dispute or argument

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