Definition of hurdle in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈhəːd(ə)l/


Image of hurdle
1One of a series of upright frames over which athletes in a race must jump: [as modifier]: a hurdle race
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  • The hoarding, the structure on which an ad is placed, is related to the hurdle over which athletes jump.
  • She jumped a series of hurdles for what seemed like the thousandth time, and then looked up at the wall in front of her.
  • She tore cartilage in her knee on August 6 as she did a routine jump over the hurdle during warm-up for her last pre-Olympic race in Zurich.
1.1 (hurdles) A hurdle race: the 100 m hurdles
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  • If Holmes recovers she could also land a medal in the 1500m, while Trafford's Chris Rawlinson is among the fancied runners for the 400m hurdles on Thursday.
  • He won the English schools 200 yards hurdles and even raced for England.
  • He will be involved in a gruelling schedule of 60 metres hurdles, high jump, long jump, shot and 1,000 metres.
2A problem or difficulty that must be overcome: many would like to emigrate to the United States, but face formidable hurdles
More example sentences
  • It was told with such passion and energy that it was difficult imagining a hurdle they could not overcome together.
  • Many believe nuclear-powered spacecraft can and should be built, but first many technical problems and other hurdles must be overcome.
  • This aside, the list of hurdles he must overcome is still formidable.
obstacle, difficulty, problem, barrier, bar, snag, stumbling block, impediment, obstruction, complication, handicap, hindrance
informal hiccup, headache, fly in the ointment
British informal spanner in the works
North American informal monkey wrench in the works
3A portable rectangular frame strengthened with withies or wooden bars, used as a temporary fence.
fence, jump, barrier, barricade, bar, railing, rail, wall, hedge, hedgerow
3.1A horse race over a series of hurdles: a handicap hurdle
More example sentences
  • Now with Sue Smith he has already improved to win a handicap hurdle at Wetherby.
  • ‘He's a six year old who won on the flat at the Curragh in June and he won a handicap hurdle for me at Cheltenham last November ’, says the handler.
  • The six-year-old proved that staying was his game at Wetherby in May when he won a handicap hurdle over almost three miles by a neck from the favourite Garnett.
4British historical A frame on which traitors were dragged to execution.


1 [no object] Take part in a hurdle race: this gelding hurdled fluently she took up hurdling
More example sentences
  • I hadn't sat on him before but it was clear that he has taken well to hurdling.
  • Flat horses who do not hit the heights are often sent hurdling at four or five.
  • The stamps celebrate cycling, sprinting, javelin, swimming and hurdling as well as a race involving athletes with a disability in lightning-fast wheelchairs.
1.1 [with object] Jump over (a hurdle or other obstacle) while running: all 450 runners had hurdled the barriers
More example sentences
  • I circled around and tried to block them by knocking over chairs and lamps in their path, but they easily hurdled the obstacles and cornered me in the living room, ready to do horrible things to me like they did the cook.
  • The commander's intent was to hurdle obstacles, crawl beneath objects, ascend and descend obstacles, and jump from objects.
  • The cheetah hurdled the gate without even breaking stride, a feat which the wolf didn't even think about emulating.
2 [with object] Enclose or fence off with hurdles: (as adjective hurdled) a maze of individual hurdled pens
More example sentences
  • He and his staff had been making special arrangements to handle the sale with the minimum of delay: extra straw had been got in, portions of the market have been hurdled off and permission had been given to close Paragon Street.


fall at the first hurdle

Meet with failure at a very early stage of an undertaking: the campaign could fall at the first hurdle if they fail to secure planning permission
More example sentences
  • By uttering the word Ascot, I had already fallen at the first hurdle.
  • In fact, once they get to the play-offs, they always fall at the first hurdle.
  • Winston Churchill would have fallen at the first hurdle.


Old English hyrdel 'temporary fence', of Germanic origin; related to Dutch horde and German Hürde.

Words that rhyme with hurdle

curdle, engirdle, girdle, nurdle

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: hur¦dle

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