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

After disavowing his famous hurdles, Alabama’s leading rusher leaped over Roderick’s whiffed tackle. Michael Casagrande |, al, "Najee Harris explains what happened on wild hurdling touchdown," 15 Sep. 2019 Our biggest hurdles are finding the will to continue in the face of financial barriers and people’s reluctance to embrace new things. Lily Shaw, Twin Cities, "Startup Showcase: Kinetic Legacy switches memory to digital legacy," 11 Aug. 2019 All those options face their own economic, technological or political hurdles. Los Angeles Times, "A clean energy breakthrough could be buried deep beneath rural Utah," 8 Aug. 2019 With a unanimous vote from regents, A&M-San Antonio cleared its final hurdle to bringing the program to its fledgling campus. Krista Torralva,, "Aggie regents OK athletics fee at San Antonio campus," 8 Aug. 2019 An ordinance that would crack down on panhandlers at intersections cleared its first hurdle Wednesday, over the objections of some unions and the ACLU of Kentucky. Darcy Costello, The Courier-Journal, "Intersection panhandling in jeopardy as Louisville ordinance clears hurdle," 31 July 2019 Not to mention, admirably joins stars like Chrissy Teigen, Kim Kardashian West, and Gabrielle Union in being transparent about their personal fertility hurdles. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, "Anne Hathaway Announces Her Pregnancy and Opens Up About Her Infertility Struggles on Instagram," 24 July 2019 Illustration: Shaumbe Wright/WSJ Last month, the $26 billion merger of T-Mobile US Inc. and Sprint Corp. cleared one of its two federal hurdles to approval—winning the blessing of the Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai. Elizabeth Winkler, WSJ, "Sprint and T-Mobile Still Face Their Toughest Hurdle," 10 June 2019 What was your biggest hurdle breaking into the business? Charles Curkin, ELLE Decor, "The Africa-Inspired Furniture Designs of Jomo Tariku Are Just Gorgeous," 1 Apr. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

In one playoff game, against JSerra Catholic, Charbonnet hurdled a defender, regained his balance and sprinted into the end zone. Orion Sang, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan football's Zach Charbonnet was groomed to be a freshman star. Here's how," 14 Sep. 2019 Gordon hurdled one would-be tackler and rammed through another to get into in the end zone., "Thirty-three thoughts on the Patriots’ 33-3 win over the Steelers . . .," 10 Sep. 2019 One picture showed the agile animal easily hurdling a yard fence fronting a community lake. Doug Phillips,, "Another coyote spotted: ‘Keep your pets indoors,’ cops tell residents," 17 July 2019 Railings are hurdled, bullets are dodged, people are pinned to walls with their own knives. Noah Berlatsky, The Verge, "Netflix’s Wu Assassins series lacks the Hong Kong cinema magic," 8 Aug. 2019 But with high-pressure water hurdling through the 8-inch steel pipe for five hours, the damage was evident by the time people were waking up on Sunday morning, Scott said. Lila Seidman, Glendale News-Press, "Street closed as water main break in La Crescenta tears asphalt apart," 5 Aug. 2019 And this caps a weird sequence for the team, where a starting linebacker went down in the first non-contact, half-speed OTA period of 2019, and the star corner hurdled a bull in Pamplona and got away unscathed. Albert Breer,, "In Atlanta, Dan Quinn Is Ready to Show Off the Falcons’ Coaching Overhaul," 22 July 2019 Akindele immediately hurdled the concrete barrier and leapt into the supporters section. Julia Poe, Pro Soccer USA, "Orlando City fans show commitment with rumble around concourse during Open Cup win," 12 July 2019 United hurdled San Jose in the Western Conference standings to start the official second half of the season with a bang. Andy Greder, Twin Cities, "In ‘biggest game’ yet, Minnesota United beats San Jose 3-1," 3 July 2019

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

8 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

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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