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 enslaved still faced hurdles in this miniature form of entrepreneurialism. Lateshia Beachum, Washington Post, "Which came first: The fried chicken or the racist trope?," 24 Aug. 2019 The new regulation is likely to face significant legal hurdles before it can be implemented. Graham Kates, CBS News, "Democrats condemn Trump administration effort to extend migrant detentions," 21 Aug. 2019 Even the lowest income consumers who pay almost nothing out of pocket for their coverage, face considerable hurdles paying for their share of the actual care. Jayne O'donnell, USA TODAY, "Signs of trouble - and progress - as Obamacare 2019 open enrollment nears," 19 Aug. 2019 In the early 2000s, attempts by a few states, led by Illinois, to allow drug importation fizzled, and any new plan faces stiff regulatory and legal hurdles. Kaiser Health News,, "These 3 states plan to import prescription medications from Canada; will more follow?," 29 June 2019 That means Democrats and the White House could face additional hurdles next month to get another funding bill passed to avoid another shutdown. NBC News, "Senate gives final passage to budget increasing military spending and deficit, Trump to sign," 1 Aug. 2019 While a civil case requires less than a criminal prosecution, Mayorga’s case nonetheless faces significant hurdles. Michael Mccann,, "Why Cristiano Ronaldo Won't Face Charges and What Comes Next in Rape Case," 22 July 2019 But both SpaceX and Boeing’s capsules have faced major hurdles, including the explosion of a SpaceX spacecraft during testing in April at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Chabeli Herrera,, "Vice President Pence looks to NASA’s future as he honors Apollo 11 crew," 20 July 2019 New York faces numerous hurdles in increasing the use of renewable energy. Ivan Penn, New York Times, "New York Awards Offshore Wind Contracts in Bid to Reduce Emissions," 18 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 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

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

27 Aug 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

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).


formidable, illustrious, or eminent

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