Breaking the barrier: Hurdle vs. hurtle

Hurdle vs. hurtle are two similar sounding words that often get confused.

“Hurdle” can have a couple of meanings. As a verb, it means to “leap” or “overcome.” So, “Liam hurdled over the mud puddle as he ran down the road.” As a noun, it means an “obstacle” or “barrier.” To wit, “Liam found the mud puddles were no great hurdles to his getaway.”

“Hurtle” means to “throw with great force” or “move with great speed.” For example, “Emily hurtled a rock at the approaching bear” and “Emily hurtled through the woods as the bear chased her.”