Definition of hurdle in US English:



  • 1An upright frame, typically one of a series, that athletes in a race must jump over.

    • ‘The youngest age at which a horse can run over hurdles is three, for fences it is four.’
    • ‘The nine-year-old, a previous winner over this course and distance, ran a nice race in sixth on his seasonal comeback at Wetherby three weeks ago in a hurdle race.’
    • ‘Leaping over a pile of pale, loose terracotta bricks that stood in their way like a race hurdle, the two skidded to a sudden halt when Ronnie stopped at the edge of her own private dock.’
    • ‘The Steeplechase event is a two-mile run around a track, which includes four hurdles and a water obstacle.’
    • ‘In this sport, though, the owner will run alongside the dog encouraging it over the hurdles and other obstacles.’
    • ‘There were hurdles and obstacles all about the course.’
    • ‘Pittman injured herself during a warm-up before her Zurich race, landing awkwardly after clearing a hurdle.’
    • ‘A chase involves larger, rigid fences while a hurdle race is run over shorter, more flexible obstacles.’
    • ‘She jumped a series of hurdles for what seemed like the thousandth time, and then looked up at the wall in front of her.’
    • ‘The athletes form a line behind the cone hurdles and must run to each hurdle, stop dead in front of it, then with both feet together, jump over the hurdle, landing on the toes.’
    • ‘You can't question his form, but he is not the most fluent jumper of hurdles and might not be suited by the tough scrap that this race often turns into.’
    • ‘He has already had an outing over hurdles this season and may yet continue over the smaller obstacles and return to the Flat.’
    • ‘The hoarding, the structure on which an ad is placed, is related to the hurdle over which athletes jump.’
    • ‘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. 1.1hurdles A hurdle race.
      ‘the women's 100-meter hurdles’
      • ‘His main events are high jump, long jump, hurdles and multi events.’
      • ‘Children who would like to participate in sprints, hurdles and relay races please attend.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘She opened the proceedings with a tidy 100 metres hurdles, then set the stadium in flames with her performance in the high jump.’
      • ‘Despite the heat, it was over 100 degrees in the stadium, he won the bronze medal in the 300 metres hurdles in the 65-69 years age group.’
      • ‘The British pair will get their heptathlon challenge underway in the 100m hurdles, the high jump, the shot and the 200m on Friday.’
      • ‘Stephen won the Under 14 60m sprint, 60m hurdles, high jump and under 15 relay.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘At sixteen she continued her excellence by winning first place in the high jump, the hurdles and the 800-meter race.’
      • ‘Her weekend began in the best possible way with personal bests in her two weakest events, the 80m hurdles and the high jump.’
  • 2An obstacle or difficulty.

    ‘there are many hurdles to overcome’
    • ‘When you can't show how, when, where it all occurred, you have a major hurdle to overcome.’
    • ‘There are a number of difficult hurdles to overcome.’
    • ‘The first hurdle to be overcome was to avoid major civilian casualties.’
    • ‘A policy decided in Brussels faces several hurdles before it can be successfully executed on the ground.’
    • ‘It was told with such passion and energy that it was difficult imagining a hurdle they could not overcome together.’
    • ‘Even after clearing the practical hurdles to implementing congestion pricing, other obstacles hamper its acceptance.’
    • ‘Yet before that can happen, a host of hurdles must be overcome.’
    • ‘One hurdle to overcome would regard who actually owned the ground.’
    • ‘In attempting to recruit candidates abroad, we have had difficulties overcoming the immigration hurdles involved in bringing foreign nationals to work in Ireland.’
    • ‘Executives say holdups due to regulatory hurdles could hurt their stock prices.’
    • ‘A York couple who overcame the hurdle of cancer are now tackling another challenge in aid of a cerebral palsy charity.’
    • ‘Many believe nuclear-powered spacecraft can and should be built, but first many technical problems and other hurdles must be overcome.’
    • ‘At nearly every step, the team must overcome complex technical hurdles, most of which have never before been faced.’
    • ‘The knee injury that kept her away from the courts for more than eight months was a huge hurdle to overcome.’
    • ‘Yet could the company's plans still falter and what hurdles must be overcome?’
    • ‘Arguably, he has overcome the first hurdle with excellence.’
    • ‘This aside, the list of hurdles he must overcome is still formidable.’
    • ‘The same hurdles have been found in many individual countries.’
    • ‘As with anything innovative and new, there are hurdles that must be overcome.’
    • ‘I'm trying to be patient, but my confidence is low and that is a hard hurdle to overcome.’
    obstacle, difficulty, problem, barrier, bar, snag, stumbling block, impediment, obstruction, complication, handicap, hindrance
    View synonyms
  • 3British A portable rectangular frame strengthened with willow branches or wooden bars, used as a temporary fence.

    fence, jump, barrier, barricade, bar, railing, rail, wall, hedge, hedgerow
    View synonyms
    1. 3.1 A horse race over a series of portable rectangular frames.
      ‘a handicap hurdle’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Four months later he brought a team of horses to the Festival and landed the new juvenile handicap hurdle with Dabiroun.’
      • ‘Intercounty, whose only previous win was in a handicap hurdle on this track, doubled the total in the Beginners Chase.’
      • ‘‘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.’
      • ‘Now with Sue Smith he has already improved to win a handicap hurdle at Wetherby.’
    2. 3.2historical A frame on which traitors were dragged to execution.


  • 1often as noun hurdlingno object Take part in a race that involves jumping hurdles.

    • ‘The three-year-old, who has been hurdling recently, was a winner over tomorrow's distance of two miles on the Flat in mid-summer and is not one to underestimate in a poor race.’
    • ‘If he wins that I will send him to France for a Group Three race and, if he doesn't, he will go hurdling.’
    • ‘The stamps celebrate cycling, sprinting, javelin, swimming and hurdling as well as a race involving athletes with a disability in lightning-fast wheelchairs.’
    • ‘For the women it has been curling, swimming, hurdling, track cycling, floor gymnastics and tonight the finale ends with the hammer and 100m sprint.’
    • ‘But he had unusually good, natural rhythm for hurdling and improved by leaps and bounds.’
    • ‘In his time with the Army, he was also a sportsman, taking part in hurdling, football, running and boxing.’
    • ‘I got into the English schools championships in hurdling and had to choose between dance and sport, although dance is obviously much more demanding on the body.’
    • ‘They say he can hurdle as well - and run a decent 200m.’
    • ‘Clearly in excellent form, she looks an exciting recruit to hurdling and I fancy that she can continue her winning run.’
    • ‘She runs, she chucks large, heavy balls, she sprints, she hurdles, she pole vaults, she's got a baby boy and her body still looks that good.’
    • ‘Flat horses who do not hit the heights are often sent hurdling at four or five.’
    • ‘The gelding looked a useful recruit to hurdling when making a triumphant debut at Newcastle last month.’
    • ‘I hadn't sat on him before but it was clear that he has taken well to hurdling.’
    • ‘The cause is usually forcible contraction of the hamstrings, as in sports such as sprinting and hurdling.’
    • ‘For vaulting, they will learn hurdling and landing skills on matting blocks.’
    • ‘A former useful handicapper on the Flat with Sir Mark Prescott, Inglis Drever has taken to hurdling like the proverbial duck to water and has won all his three races in the style of a high-class recruit.’
    • ‘His versatile gelding showed an aptitude for hurdling by winning last season.’
    • ‘An able staying handicapper on the flat, the five-year-old has taken well to hurdling and has won his last two races in pleasing style.’
    • ‘Fit from hurdling, the five-year-old should have a better chance than most in what looks a wide-open race.’
    • ‘In my experience using it to school, I don't see why it shouldn't be just as suitable for chases as it is for hurdling.’
    1. 1.1with object Jump over (a hurdle or other obstacle) while running.
      • ‘Eyewitnesses say that he hurdled the ticket barrier and then ran down the platform to get onto the train.’
      • ‘If you're walking along and spot a snake, fear propels you to run with blazing speed and hurdle the fence like an Olympian.’
      • ‘He ran across the road, hurdled the dividing railing, and raced to Vishy and shook his hand.’
      • ‘The prisoner leapt from the dock, jumped over the shoulders of barristers and hurdled the bar where the judge was sitting.’
      • ‘Chasing after him, Ana hurdled the hole as well, then pressed her hands against the floor to block the corridor again.’
      • ‘The cheetah hurdled the gate without even breaking stride, a feat which the wolf didn't even think about emulating.’
      • ‘I can see how witnesses can get garments wrong, make assailants taller, and so on, but I really don't see how several witnesses can confuse going through the barrier with a ticket and hurdling it.’
      • ‘He also is good at hurdling defenders who attempt to tackle him low.’
      • ‘I body checked the third on my way by, driving my right shoulder and elbow into his gut as I hurdled the overturned table.’
      • ‘He also gets yards after the catch, even if it means hurdling a defender as he did against Tennessee.’
      • ‘Kyle hurdled the backyard fence with the dog under one arm, pulled Misty up, and then gracefully fell to the other side.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Any temporary discomfort is vastly outweighed by the delight of leaping over hurdles you wouldn't even have approached before.’
      • ‘The commander's intent was to hurdle obstacles, crawl beneath objects, ascend and descend obstacles, and jump from objects.’
      jump, jump over, leap, leap over, skip, skip over, leapfrog, leapfrog over, spring over, bound over, sail over, hurdle, clear, pole-vault
      View synonyms
  • 2with object Enclose or fence off with hurdles.

    • ‘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’
      • ‘It is our primary submission that this case falls at the first hurdle.’
      • ‘But as far as a true sampling, this show falls at the first hurdle.’
      • ‘Winston Churchill would have fallen at the first hurdle.’
      • ‘There were many entries, but these were not technology-based businesses and all fell at the first hurdle.’
      • ‘An attempt to bring a private prosecution over the death of a partygoer at the entertainer's home fell at the first hurdle yesterday.’
      • ‘So you fall at the first hurdle, you have no musical credibility.’
      • ‘Hosts handed tough task In Group A, reigning world champions Brazil will have to be at their devastating best to avoid falling at the first hurdle.’
      • ‘In fact, once they get to the play-offs, they always fall at the first hurdle.’
      • ‘By uttering the word Ascot, I had already fallen at the first hurdle.’
      • ‘But Mr Davies, said that any such proposal from Brussels would fall at the first hurdle.’


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