hur·​tle | \ˈhər-tᵊl \
hurtled; hurtling\ˈhərt-​liŋ, 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

Critics will point to the A’s as a reason to send the whole idea hurtling into the sun, ignoring the fact that Oakland routinely used the approach in a regular season that ended with 97 victories. Jared Diamond, WSJ, "Bullpen Day Strategy Remains a Work in Progress," 5 Oct. 2018 Aerosols emerge out of smoke billowing from a wildfire, ash hurtling out of volcano, or even dust blowing in the wind. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "NASA's Global Aerosol Map Reveals the Long Reach of our Planet's Disasters," 27 Aug. 2018 The week-long trip to Ocean City was the real start of summer for the Trinidads, the latest iteration of a sun-, crab- and family-filled tradition that had endured even as four daughters hurtled toward adulthood. Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Washington Post, "‘All gone in the blink of an eye’: Woman survives crash that killed her husband and 4 daughters," 8 July 2018 Last June, as the subway was hurtling toward crisis, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo nominated Mr. Lhota to serve as chairman and chief executive of the transportation authority, which runs the city’s subways, buses and commuter railroads. New York Times, "After Ethics Warning, M.T.A. Chairman Gets O.K. for Outside Jobs in an Email," 28 June 2018 As the clock hurtled toward zero Saturday, one half of the guard tandem from Overland Park, Kan., launched a shot that will get reenacted in metro Kansas City and in metro Chicago for years. Andy Staples,, "Unfazed by the Big Stage, Loyola-Chicago Is Ready to Keep Its Streak Alive," 17 Mar. 2018 Go solo on the Lake Placid Skeleton Experience, hurtling along slick ice on a tiny sled, hitting up to 30 mph. Kate Silver,, "Curling in Chicago? Bobsled for amateurs? Get your Olympics fix at these spots around the country.," 28 Feb. 2018 Goldberg recalls Madison resembling a war zone: mass protests against the Vietnam war, activists bombing buildings, police in riot gear hurtling tear gas. Maya Dukmasova, Chicago Reader, "The trials of Stuart V. Goldberg, Chicago’s flashiest defense attorney," 23 Jan. 2018 The objects appeared suddenly at 80,000 feet, and then hurtled toward the sea, eventually stopping at 20,000 feet and hovering. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "That Time the U.S. Navy Had a Close Encounter With a UFO," 18 Dec. 2017

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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Statistics for hurtle

Last Updated

7 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for hurtle

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

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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 \
hurtled; hurtling

Kids Definition of hurtle

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on hurtle

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with hurtle

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for hurtle

Spanish Central: Translation of hurtle

Nglish: Translation of hurtle for Spanish Speakers

Comments on hurtle

What made you want to look up hurtle? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a knickknack or trinket

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