a portable barrier over which contestants must leap in certain running races, usually a wooden frame with a hinged inner frame that swings down under impact to prevent injury to a runner who does not clear it.
hurdles, (used with a singular verb) a race in which contestants must leap over a number of such barriers placed at specific intervals around the track.
O.E. hyrdel "frame of intertwined twigs used as a temporary barrier," dim. of hyrd "door," from P.Gmc. *khurdis (cf. Ger. Hürde "hurdle, fold, pen;" O.N. hurð, Goth. haurds "door"), from PIE *krtis (cf. L. cratis "hurdle, wickerwork," Gk. kartalos "a kind of basket," kyrtos "fishing creel"), from base *qrt- "to weave, twist together" (cf. Skt. krt "to spin"). Sense of "barrier to jump in a race" first recorded 1833; figurative sense of "obstacle" is 1924.