hurdle

noun
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

hurdle

verb
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

Noun

hurdle 2a

In the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from hurdle

Verb

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

Noun He won a medal in the high hurdles. The company faces severe financial hurdles this year. Verb The horse hurdled the fence.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The process to hand him his Spanish nationality has already begun, but there are plenty of hurdles to overcome. SI.com, "Ansu Fati Could Be Set to Miss Next 7 Barcelona Games Due to Under-17 World Cup," 16 Sep. 2019 Wednesday’s certification was also just one of several hurdles before a petition can officially go before voters in November 2020. Matt Stout, BostonGlobe.com, "Proposed anti-‘sanctuary state’ ballot question clears key hurdle, along with 11 others," 4 Sep. 2019 One of the major remaining hurdles is determining who will be on the receiving end of students’ concerns. Washington Post, "D.C. responds to students’ safety concerns with an app," 2 Sep. 2019 This was converted to a score that represented an awareness of some of the hurdles women face in the sciences. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Scientists avoid gender bias when they know they’re being tested for bias," 27 Aug. 2019 One of the biggest hurdles last year dealt with traffic due to the construction of the south end of the project limiting campus ingress and egress. John Benson, cleveland.com, "North Olmsted City Schools Superintendent reflects on new middle and high school facility’s first year of operation," 19 Aug. 2019 Rebecca Katz, founder of progressive consulting firm New Deal Strategies, said that all of the hurdles experienced by primary candidates like Boylan are there by design. Seamus Kirst, Teen Vogue, "Why Lindsey Boylan Wants to Defeat One of the Most Powerful Democrats in Congress," 16 Aug. 2019 The proposed expansion of a dealership that sells Porsches and other pricey automobiles in Columbia Township has cleared the second of three government hurdles. Jeanne Houck, Cincinnati.com, "'People Over Porsches' loses round in Columbia Twp. dealership expansion fight," 13 Aug. 2019 While the units both possessed a similar pre-war character, many of the details were quite different, which would be one of the biggest hurdles to overcome. Lucia Tonelli, ELLE Decor, "Inside a Chanel Fashion Executive’s High-Glam Sutton Place Home," 26 July 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Harris stutter steps for timing before hurdling Roderick cleanly. Nathan Baird, cleveland.com, "Is Ohio State football’s defense ready for Clemson and Alabama? Buckeye Rewatch," 16 Sep. 2019 Case Keenum did well in his Redskins debut under center, throwing for 380 yards and three scores, including a 48-yard pass to tight end Vernon Davis, in which the 35-year-old hurdled a defender to open the scoring. Si Wire, SI.com, "Cowboys vs. Redskins Live Stream: Watch Online, TV Channel, Start Time," 15 Sep. 2019 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. BostonGlobe.com, "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, sun-sentinel.com, "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, SI.com, "In Atlanta, Dan Quinn Is Ready to Show Off the Falcons’ Coaching Overhaul," 22 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.

See More

First Known Use of hurdle

Noun

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

Verb

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

Statistics for hurdle

Last Updated

5 Nov 2019

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

hurdle

noun
How to pronounce hurdle (audio)

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

hurdle

verb

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

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

hurdle

noun
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.

hurdle

verb
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

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).

WORD OF THE DAY

the exactly right word or phrasing

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Pass the Little Ribbons: A Pasta Word Quiz

  • rotelle pasta
  • Match the pasta to its meaning in English: Rotelle
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Dictionary Devil

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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