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. Compare high hurdles, low hurdles.
any of various vertical barriers, as a hedge, low wall, or section of fence, over which horses must jump in certain types of turf races, as a steeplechase, but especially an artificial barrier.
a difficult problem to be overcome; obstacle.
Chiefly British. a movable rectangular frame of interlaced twigs, crossed bars, or the like, as for a temporary fence.
a frame or sled on which criminals, especially traitors, were formerly drawn to the place of execution.
verb (used with object), hurdled, hurdling.
to leap over (a hurdle, barrier, fence, etc.), as in a race.
to master (a difficulty, problem, etc.); overcome.
to construct with hurdles; enclose with hurdles.
verb (used without object), hurdled, hurdling.
to leap over a hurdle or other barrier.

before 900; Middle English hirdel, hurdel (noun), Old English hyrdel, equivalent to hyrd- + -el noun suffix; compare German Hürde hurdle; akin to Latin crātis hurdle, wickerwork, Greek kýrtos basket, cage, Sanskrit kṛt spin

hurdler, noun
unhurdled, adjective

hurdle, hurl, hurtle. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
hurdle (ˈhɜːdəl)
1.  a.  athletics one of a number of light barriers over which runners leap in certain events
 b.  a low barrier used in certain horse races
2.  an obstacle to be overcome
3.  a light framework of interlaced osiers, wattle, etc, used as a temporary fence
4.  (Brit) a sledge on which criminals were dragged to their executions
5.  to jump (a hurdle, etc), as in racing
6.  (tr) to surround with hurdles
7.  (tr) to overcome
[Old English hyrdel; related to Gothic haurds door, Old Norse hurth door, Old High German hurd, Latin crātis, Greek kurtos basket]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

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.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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