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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The two leaders will discuss ratification of the replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement, known as USMCA, which still faces varying hurdles. Josh Wingrove And Justin Sink / Bloomberg, Time, "Trump to Host Canada's Trudeau Next Week to Discuss Trade Deal and Huawei," 14 June 2019 The United States, however, faces steep hurdles in persuading a skeptical international community. Mark Landler, New York Times, "U.S. Puts Iran on Notice and Weighs Response to Attack on Oil Tankers," 14 June 2019 The second faces more federal government hurdles in order to become law. Christine Sexton,, "Florida closer to getting cheaper prescription drugs from Canada — but it’s not a done deal," 11 June 2019 Alex Spinelli, chief technology officer at LivePerson Photo: LivePerson Hiring from abroad comes with hurdles. Angus Loten, WSJ, "‘Talent War’ at Home Prompts U.S. Employers to Take Another Look Abroad," 30 May 2019 There, Meiler took home an impressive seven medals in the 80-85 age division, including five golds (pole vault, pentathlon, high jump, hurdles, and the 4x200-meter relay) and two silvers (triple jump and long jump). Jenny Mccoy, SELF, "Meet Flo Filion Meiler, the 84-Year-Old Track and Field Athlete With Over 775 Medals," 26 Apr. 2019 Technological limitations remain along with unknown legal hurdles. Anthony Alaniz, Popular Mechanics, "When Are Self-Driving Cars Actually Coming?," 25 Apr. 2019 While raising four young kids in the mid-2000s, the couple again encountered some hurdles. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "'MasterChef' Star Gordon Ramsay and His Wife Tana Have Endured a Lot Together," 19 Apr. 2019 At times, finish proved a more significant hurdle than shade options. Janelle Okwodu, Vogue, "365 Days of Foundation: How One Vogue Writer Finally Found a Perfect Match," 18 Apr. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

In a study recently published in Neuron, however, Paşca and his team may have hurdled that obstacle by pushing mini-brains to unprecedented longevity. Quanta Magazine, "The Oldest Mini-Brains Have Lifelike Young Cells," 29 Aug. 2017 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

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

18 Jun 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
: 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.

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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

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