hurdle

1 of 2

noun

hur·​dle ˈhər-dᵊl How to pronounce hurdle (audio)
1
a
: 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
2
a
: 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

Illustration of hurdle

Illustration of hurdle
  • hurdle 2a

hurdle

2 of 2

verb

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

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

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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
What additional hurdles, other than the lawsuit, might the policy face? Elliot Hughes, Journal Sentinel, 11 June 2024 This week California is also debuting a network of 14 nonprofit organizations that collectively received $7 million in state grants to help California borrowers navigate the maze of student loan policies, hurdles and deadlines. Calmatters, The Mercury News, 10 June 2024
Verb
For companies attempting to create vaccines, the program reduced costs and uncertainty by providing standards that stipulated the research hurdles a company had to clear to receive government support. Gordon H. Hanson, Foreign Affairs, 28 Feb. 2023 So, those everywhere who loved William Theodore Walton III should raise their glasses, to an incredible man who somehow hurdled setbacks to lead life on his own terms. Nick Canepa, San Diego Union-Tribune, 28 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for hurdle 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'hurdle.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun and Verb

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

First Known Use

Noun

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

Verb

1896, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near hurdle

Cite this Entry

“Hurdle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hurdle. Accessed 23 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition

hurdle

1 of 2 noun
hur·​dle ˈhərd-ᵊl How to pronounce hurdle (audio)
1
: a movable panel used as a fence
2
a
: a barrier to be jumped in a race
b
: a race in which such barriers must be jumped
3

hurdle

2 of 2 verb
hurdled; hurdling ˈhərd-liŋ How to pronounce hurdle (audio)
-ᵊl-iŋ
1
: to leap over while running
the horse hurdled the fence
2
hurdler
ˈhərd-lər How to pronounce hurdle (audio)
-ᵊl-ər
noun

More from Merriam-Webster on hurdle

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