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See also: Hurdle



From Middle English hurdel, hirdel, herdel, hyrdel, from Old English hyrdel (frame of intertwined twigs used as a temporary barrier), diminutive of *hyrd, from Proto-Germanic *hurdiz, from Pre-Germanic *kr̥h₂tis, from Proto-Indo-European *kreh₂-. Cognate with Dutch horde, German Hürde.



hurdle (plural hurdles)

  1. An artificial barrier, variously constructed, over which athletes or horses jump in a race (for example the 100 metres hurdles).
  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, page 414:
      The practice of folding sheep was general, and the purchase of hurdles was a regular charge in the shepherd's account.
  4. (Britain, obsolete) A sled or crate on which criminals were formerly drawn to the place of execution.
    • 1550, Francis Bacon, A Preparation Toward the Union of Laws, in The Works of Francis Bacon, edited by James Spedding, Robert Leslie Ellis, and Douglas Denon Heath, London: Longman, Green & Co., Vol. VII, p. 735, [1]
      In treason, the corporal punishment is by drawing on hurdle from the place of the prison to the place of execution, and by hanging and being cut down alive, bowelling, and quartering: and in women by burning.
    • 1855, Matthew Arnold, Balder Dead, Part II, in The Poems of Matthew Arnold, 1840-1867, Oxford University Press, 1909, pp. 250-51, [2]
      Behind flock'd wrangling up a piteous crew, / Greeted of none, disfeatur'd and forlorn— / Cowards, who were in sloughs interr'd alive: / And round them still the wattled hurdles hung / Wherewith they stamp'd them down, and trod them deep, / To hide their shameful memory from men.
  5. (T-flapping) Misspelling of hurtle.




hurdle (third-person singular simple present hurdles, present participle hurdling, simple past and past participle hurdled)

  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.
  4. To hedge, cover, make, or enclose with hurdles.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Milton to this entry?)
  5. (T-flapping) Misspelling of hurtle.