hur·​tle | \ ˈhər-tᵊl How to pronounce hurtle (audio) \
hurtled; hurtling\ ˈhərt-​liŋ How to pronounce hurtle (audio) , ˈhər-​tᵊl-​iŋ \

Definition of hurtle

intransitive verb

: to move rapidly or forcefully

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Other Words from hurtle

hurtle 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 hurtle in a Sentence

Boulders hurtled down the hill. We kept to the side of the road as cars and trucks hurtled past us. The protesters hurtled bottles at the police. He hurtled himself into the crowd.
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Recent Examples on the Web This would be a smaller-scale, more focused version of the large naval bombardments of World War II, when hundreds of ships would hurtle thousands of tons of unguided artillery shells against targets on islands like Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The Marine Corps Is About to Reinvent Itself—Drastically," 2 Apr. 2021 In the absence of leadership, the economy could continue to hurtle towards the unknown. Tamara Qiblawi, CNN, "Specter of civil conflict in Lebanon looms as economic meltdown gives way to violence," 20 Mar. 2021 Knowledge swims up from invention and imagination—from ardor—and sometimes even an essay can invent, burn, guess, try out, dig up, hurtle forward, succumb to that flood of sign and nuance that adds up to intuition, disclosure, discovery. Cathleen Schine, The New York Review of Books, "The Struggle and the Scramble," 16 Mar. 2021 Once a window shatters, Babbitt leaps up and tries to hurtle herself through. al, "Right wing propagandists cast Ashli Babbitt as victim, spy or say she’s still alive," 12 Jan. 2021 As the 2020 elections hurtle toward their finish, Gallego has emerged as a key Arizona Democrat to watch. Ronald J. Hansen, The Arizona Republic, "Rep. Ruben Gallego is a top campaigner for Joe Biden. Is a Biden administration post in his future?," 19 Oct. 2020 Visitors hurtle down roller coasters in empty cars. Shirley Li, The Atlantic, "‘I Felt Safer Going to Disney Than Going to the Grocery Store’," 3 Aug. 2020 The virus has been more or less contained in every advanced industrial democracy except the United States, where the daily rolling average has soared above 45,000 people—far exceeding any other nation—and continues to hurtle skyward. Fortune, "How designers are visualizing America’s failure to cope with COVID-19," 7 July 2020 Now, the probe continues to hurtle through deep space. Candice Wang, Popular Science, "NASA’s New Horizons is so far away, its seeing stars from new angles," 19 June 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hurtle.' 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 hurtle

14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

History and Etymology for hurtle

Middle English hurtlen to collide, frequentative of hurten to cause to strike, hurt

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Time Traveler for hurtle

Time Traveler

The first known use of hurtle was in the 14th century

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Statistics for hurtle

Last Updated

11 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Hurtle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for hurtle



English Language Learners Definition of hurtle

: to move or fall with great speed and force
: to cause (something or someone) to move or go with great speed and force


hur·​tle | \ ˈhər-tᵊl How to pronounce hurtle (audio) \
hurtled; hurtling

Kids Definition of hurtle

: to move or fall with great speed or force Rocks hurtled down the hill.

More from Merriam-Webster on hurtle

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for hurtle

Nglish: Translation of hurtle for Spanish Speakers

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