AskDefine | Define hurdle

Dictionary Definition



1 a light movable barrier that competitors must leap over in certain races
2 an obstacle that you are expected to overcome; "the last hurdle before graduation"
3 the act of jumping over an obstacle [syn: vault] v : jump a hurdle

User Contributed Dictionary



  • a RP /ˈhɜːdəl/, /'h3:d@l/
  • a US /ˈhɝdəl/, /'h3`d@l/,
  • Rhymes with: -ɜː(r)dəl


  1. An artificial barrier, variously constructed, over which men or horses jump in a race.
  2. A perceived obstacle.
  3. A movable frame of wattled twigs, osiers, or withes and stakes, or sometimes of iron, used for enclosing land, for folding sheep and cattle, for gates, etc.; also, in fortification, used as revetments, and for other purposes.
    • 1882, James Edwin Thorold Rogers, A History of Agriculture and Prices in England, Volume 4, p. 414.
      The practice of folding sheep was general, and the purchase of hurdles was a regular charge in the shepherd's account.
  4. In England, a sled or crate on which criminals were formerly drawn to the place of execution. —Bacon.


an artificial barrier over which men or horses jump in a race
  • French: haie (3)
  • Hungarian: gát, akadály
  • Japanese: ハードル
a perceived obstacle
  • Hungarian: gát, akadály
  • Japanese: ハードル, 障害物
a movable frame of wattled twigs
  • Hungarian: karám
  • Japanese: 柵


  1. To jump over something while running.
    He hurdled the bench in his rush to get away.
  2. To compete in the track and field events of hurdles (e.g. high hurdles).
  3. To overcome an obstacle.

Extensive Definition

A hurdle is a moveable section of light fencing. Traditionally they were made from wattle (woven split branches), but modern hurdles are often made of metal. Hurdles are used for handling livestock, as decorative fencing, for horse racing and in the track and field event of hurdling.

Types of hurdle

  • Traditional hurdles are made from wattle, usually of hazel or willow. Hurdle-making is a traditional woodland craft, done by placing upright sticks in holes in a log and weaving split branches between them. Historically they were used to pen livestock or to separate land in open field systems, but they are now popular as decorative fencing for gardens.
  • Modern livestock hurdles are used for sorting, handling or loading animals where permanent fencing is impractical or uneconomic. They are made of steel or aluminium, and vary in size. For sheep, they are usually long and high, while for cattle they are commonly or more long and high. They are usually joined by pins or hooks, both to each other and to handling facilities such as a cattle crush. While individual hurdles are easily knocked over by animals, when joined in a ring or to solid objects they make a secure fence. Single hurdles are often used a temporary gate or to block a gap in a hedge. Hurdles are often supplied in a set together with a mobile cattle crush and a trailer for easy transport.
  • Hurdles used as jumps in horse racing are similar to traditional hurdles.
  • The barriers used in track and field hurdling vary. For long-distances they consist of a single bar firmly attached to two posts, while for sprint hurdling they are a light metal frame on a stand.

See also

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Highland fling, and jump, bar, barrier, block, blockade, bottleneck, bounce, bound, broad jump, buck, buckjump, capriole, catch, check, clear, complication, conquer, cordon, curtain, curvet, demivolt, determent, deterrent, difficulty, down, drawback, flying jump, galliard, gelandesprung, grand jete, hamper, handicap, handspring, hang-up, hazard, high jump, hindrance, hippety-hop, hitch, hop, impediment, interference, jete, jig, joker, jump, jump over, jump shot, jump turn, jump-hop, jump-off, lavolta, leap, leap over, leapfrog, lick, long jump, lop, master, morris, mountain, negotiate, objection, obstacle, obstruction, obstructive, one small difficulty, over, overjump, overleap, overskip, pole vault, pounce, pounce on, pounce upon, restraint, rub, running broad jump, running high jump, saut de basque, ski jump, skip, snag, spring, start, start aside, start up, steeplechase, stumbling block, stumbling stone, surmount, throw, tour jete, traverse, updive, upleap, upspring, vault
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