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

Definition of hurtle

intransitive verb

: to move rapidly or forcefully

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web One blast hurtled a slab of metal bigger than a school bus across the river. NBC News, "Massive oil refinery leaks toxic chemical in the middle of Philadelphia," 16 Jan. 2020 Hurricane Dorian is currently a Category 2 storm and is hurtling towards Florida's east coast. Rebecca Morin, USA TODAY, "Former Canadian Prime Minister Kim Campbell 'rooting' for Hurricane Dorian to hit Trump's Mar-a-Lago," 30 Aug. 2019 Pulling on the rope dislodged the rock, which hurtled down and struck Kellogg in the head, killing him instantly. Nick Heil, Outside Online, "The Tragedy on Howse Peak," 28 Aug. 2019 Boston star Kemba Walker had just been assessed a pair of technical fouls and ejected when the can came hurtling near the Spurs bench, narrowly missing players. Jeff Mcdonald,, "Spurs’ Gregg Popovich declines load management title," 9 Jan. 2020 Two of the seven cars hurtled into the water below, officials said, toppling over a footpath frequented by visitors to the Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. Marissa J. Lang, Washington Post, "Freight train derails and falls into Potomac River near Harpers Ferry, W.Va.," 21 Dec. 2019 It was sparked — unsurprisingly — by Smart hurtling his body into the stands to chase a loose ball., "The Celtics concluded their grueling five-game West Coast swing with a 2-3 record following Friday’s 96-92 loss to the Nuggets in Denver. Here are 15 thoughts about the trip:," 24 Nov. 2019 Austin Smith were hurtling over the Pacific Ocean at 280 miles per hour. Robert Faturechi, ProPublica, "Faulty Equipment, Lapsed Training, Repeated Warnings: How a Preventable Disaster Killed Six Marines," 2 Jan. 2020 The football hurtled through the Pittsburgh air, end over end, its trajectory unknowable but its magnitude obvious. Jonas Shaffer,, "Weird, wild, but a win: Ravens outlast Steelers in overtime to end two-game losing streak," 7 Oct. 2019

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about hurtle

Time Traveler for hurtle

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for hurtle

Last Updated

16 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Hurtle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Feb. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for hurtle


How to pronounce hurtle (audio)

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.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on hurtle

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for hurtle

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

February 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • squirrel in winter
  • Which is a synonym of probity?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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