Top 38 Slang For Obstacles – Meaning & Usage

Navigating obstacles in life can be challenging, but with the right slang terms, you can tackle them like a pro. From common phrases to trendy expressions, our team has curated a list of the top slang for obstacles that will not only help you overcome hurdles but also keep you in the loop with the latest lingo. So buckle up and get ready to conquer those roadblocks with style!

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1. Hurdle

A hurdle is a metaphorical term used to describe a challenge or obstacle that one must overcome in order to achieve a goal or make progress.

  • For example, “Getting a promotion at work can be a major hurdle in one’s career.”
  • In a sports context, a coach might say, “We need to work on overcoming our mental hurdles.”
  • A person facing personal challenges might say, “I’ve overcome many hurdles in my life, and I know I can overcome this one too.”

2. Roadblock

A roadblock refers to a significant obstacle or barrier that prevents progress or hinders the achievement of a goal.

  • For instance, “Lack of funding has become a roadblock to the project’s success.”
  • In a personal context, someone might say, “I hit a roadblock in my relationship and need to figure out how to move forward.”
  • A team facing challenges might discuss, “We need to find a way to navigate around this roadblock and keep moving forward.”

3. Barrier

A barrier is a general term used to describe something that blocks or hinders progress, whether physical, mental, or emotional.

  • For example, “Language barriers can make communication difficult in a multicultural workplace.”
  • In a social context, someone might say, “Socioeconomic barriers prevent many individuals from accessing quality education.”
  • A person discussing personal growth might reflect, “I’ve worked hard to overcome the barriers that held me back in the past.”

4. Snag

A snag refers to an unexpected problem or complication that arises, often causing a delay or hindrance in progress.

  • For instance, “We hit a snag in the project when the main supplier backed out.”
  • In a personal context, someone might say, “I thought everything was going smoothly, but then I hit a snag.”
  • A team facing challenges might discuss, “Let’s brainstorm solutions to overcome this snag and keep moving forward.”

5. Impediment

An impediment is something that acts as an obstacle or hindrance, often causing difficulty or delay in achieving a goal.

  • For example, “His lack of experience was an impediment to getting the job.”
  • In a personal context, someone might say, “I need to address my fear of public speaking, as it’s become an impediment to my career.”
  • A person discussing personal growth might reflect, “Identifying and overcoming our internal impediments is key to self-improvement.”

6. Hitch

A hitch refers to a problem or obstacle that causes a delay or interruption in progress. It can also refer to a temporary difficulty or setback.

  • For example, “We hit a hitch in our plans when the equipment broke down.”
  • A person might say, “I encountered a hitch while trying to install the software.”
  • In a project update, someone might mention, “We’re making good progress, but we’ve hit a few hitches along the way.”

7. Setback

A setback refers to a reversal or delay in progress. It can be a temporary or permanent obstacle that hinders forward movement or success.

  • For instance, “We experienced a setback when our funding fell through.”
  • A person might say, “I’ve had a few setbacks in my career, but I keep pushing forward.”
  • In a sports context, someone might mention, “The team suffered a setback when their star player got injured.”

8. Handicap

A handicap refers to a disadvantage or limitation that hinders someone’s ability to perform or succeed. It can be a physical, mental, or situational obstacle.

  • For example, “Her lack of experience is a handicap in this job.”
  • A person might say, “I don’t let my disability be a handicap; I find ways to overcome it.”
  • In a discussion about fairness, someone might argue, “Providing accommodations for individuals with disabilities is essential to level the playing field and remove handicaps.”

9. Impasse

An impasse refers to a deadlock or stalemate in a situation where no progress or agreement can be reached. It often implies a situation where different parties cannot find a resolution.

  • For instance, “The negotiations reached an impasse when neither side was willing to compromise.”
  • A person might say, “We’re at an impasse in our relationship; we can’t seem to find a solution.”
  • In a business context, someone might mention, “The project has come to an impasse due to conflicting priorities.”

10. Bottleneck

A bottleneck refers to an obstruction or congestion point that slows down or limits the flow of progress or resources. It often creates a point of congestion where things get stuck or delayed.

  • For example, “The traffic jam created a bottleneck on the highway.”
  • A person might say, “The slow computer is a bottleneck in our productivity.”
  • In a manufacturing context, someone might mention, “The limited capacity of the machine is causing a bottleneck in our production line.”

11. Quandary

A difficult situation or problem in which a person is uncertain about what to do or choose. “Quandary” is often used to describe a state of perplexity or confusion.

  • For example, “I’m in a quandary about whether to accept the job offer or stay at my current job.”
  • In a discussion about ethical issues, someone might say, “The decision to prioritize profits or sustainability can put businesses in a quandary.”
  • A person might express their confusion by saying, “I’m in a quandary about which college to attend.”

12. Sticky wicket

A challenging or tricky situation that is hard to navigate or resolve. “Sticky wicket” is often used metaphorically, originating from the sport of cricket where a pitch that is damp or damaged can make it hard for the batsman.

  • For instance, in a conversation about a complicated relationship, someone might say, “They’re in a sticky wicket with their ex and current partner.”
  • A person facing a challenging decision might say, “I find myself on a sticky wicket – no matter what choice I make, there will be consequences.”
  • In a discussion about a difficult negotiation, someone might comment, “The contract terms put us in a sticky wicket.”

13. Catch

An obstacle or difficulty that hinders progress or success. “Catch” is often used to describe a problem or unexpected challenge that arises.

  • For example, in a conversation about a project, someone might say, “We hit a catch when the main supplier backed out.”
  • A person discussing a setback might say, “There’s always a catch when things seem too good to be true.”
  • In a discussion about a difficult task, someone might comment, “The lack of resources is a catch we need to overcome.”

14. Rub

A problem or difficulty that causes annoyance or frustration. “Rub” is often used to describe a source of irritation or inconvenience.

  • For instance, in a conversation about a malfunctioning computer, someone might say, “It’s a real rub when the system crashes in the middle of an important task.”
  • A person discussing a recurring issue might say, “That software glitch is a constant rub for our team.”
  • In a discussion about a challenging situation, someone might comment, “Dealing with difficult customers can be a real rub in the service industry.”

15. Jam

An obstacle or difficulty that creates a delay or obstruction. “Jam” is often used to describe a situation where things are stuck or not progressing smoothly.

  • For example, in a conversation about traffic, someone might say, “I got stuck in a jam on the way to work.”
  • A person discussing a technical issue might say, “The printer jam is causing a delay in printing the important documents.”
  • In a discussion about a complicated process, someone might comment, “The bureaucratic red tape is a jam we need to navigate through.”

16. Gridlock

Gridlock refers to a situation where traffic is so heavily congested that it comes to a complete standstill. It often occurs when there are too many vehicles on the road and insufficient space for them to move.

  • For example, during rush hour, you might hear someone say, “I was stuck in gridlock for over an hour this morning.”
  • A frustrated driver might exclaim, “I hate this city’s gridlock. It takes forever to get anywhere!”
  • A news report might state, “Gridlock on the highway led to significant delays for commuters today.”

17. Conundrum

A conundrum is a difficult and confusing problem or question that is difficult to solve or answer. It often refers to a situation where there are contradictory or conflicting factors that make finding a solution challenging.

  • For instance, a person might say, “I’m facing a conundrum – should I accept the job offer with higher pay but longer hours, or stick with my current job?”
  • In a discussion about ethics, someone might pose the conundrum, “Is it ever acceptable to lie to protect someone’s feelings?”
  • A teacher might present students with a conundrum to stimulate critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
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18. Dilemma

A dilemma is a situation where a difficult choice has to be made between two or more alternatives, especially when all the options have negative consequences. It often involves a moral or ethical conflict.

  • For example, a person might say, “I’m in a dilemma – should I report my friend’s wrongdoing and risk losing their trust, or stay silent and allow the unethical behavior to continue?”
  • In a debate about environmental issues, someone might argue, “The dilemma of economic growth versus environmental sustainability is a complex challenge.”
  • A character in a movie might face a dilemma where they have to choose between saving their loved one or sacrificing them for the greater good.

19. Obstruction

An obstruction is something that blocks or hinders progress or movement. It refers to any obstacle that gets in the way of achieving a goal or completing a task.

  • For instance, a person might say, “The fallen tree is causing an obstruction on the road, preventing cars from passing.”
  • In a discussion about politics, someone might argue, “Bureaucratic red tape is a major obstruction to efficient governance.”
  • A coach might advise their team, “Don’t let your opponents become an obstruction to scoring. Find a way to overcome their defense.”

20. Deterrent

A deterrent is something that discourages or prevents someone from taking a particular action or behaving in a certain way. It is often used in the context of preventing crime or unwanted behavior.

  • For example, a sign that says “Warning: Security cameras in use” can act as a deterrent to potential thieves.
  • In a discussion about nuclear weapons, someone might argue, “The possession of nuclear weapons acts as a deterrent against aggression.”
  • A parent might use a punishment as a deterrent to prevent their child from misbehaving in the future.
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21. Bump in the road

This phrase is used to describe a small obstacle or difficulty that is encountered along the way. It refers to something that causes a temporary delay or inconvenience.

  • For example, “We hit a bump in the road when our car got a flat tire.”
  • In a discussion about a project, someone might say, “We’re making progress, but we’ve encountered a few bumps in the road.”
  • A person sharing their personal journey might say, “Life is full of bumps in the road, but it’s important to keep moving forward.”

22. Hurdles

Hurdles are metaphorical obstacles or difficulties that need to be overcome in order to achieve a goal or make progress. The term is often used to describe significant challenges that require effort and perseverance to overcome.

  • For instance, “She faced many hurdles on her path to success, but she never gave up.”
  • In a motivational context, someone might say, “Don’t let hurdles discourage you. Use them as opportunities for growth.”
  • A person discussing their career might say, “I’ve encountered a few hurdles along the way, but each one has made me stronger.”

23. Roadblocks

Roadblocks are obstacles or barriers that prevent progress or hinder the achievement of a goal. The term is often used to describe significant challenges or difficulties that seem insurmountable.

  • For example, “There were several roadblocks that prevented the project from moving forward.”
  • In a discussion about personal growth, someone might say, “Identify your roadblocks and find ways to overcome them.”
  • A person sharing their experience might say, “I faced many roadblocks in my career, but each one taught me valuable lessons.”

24. Barriers

Barriers are obstacles or hindrances that prevent progress or restrict access. The term is often used to describe physical, mental, or emotional obstacles that stand in the way of achieving a goal.

  • For instance, “Language barriers can make communication difficult in a foreign country.”
  • In a discussion about inclusivity, someone might say, “We need to break down the barriers that prevent equal opportunities.”
  • A person discussing personal relationships might say, “Trust issues can create barriers between two people.”

25. Snags

Snags are unexpected difficulties or complications that arise and cause delays or problems. The term is often used to describe minor obstacles or setbacks that disrupt progress.

  • For example, “We hit a few snags during the renovation project, but we were able to overcome them.”
  • In a discussion about event planning, someone might say, “There are always snags that come up, but it’s important to stay calm and find solutions.”
  • A person sharing their travel experience might say, “We had a few snags along the way, but they made the journey more memorable.”

26. Impediments

Impediments refer to obstacles or difficulties that hinder progress or movement. It can be used to describe anything that stands in the way of achieving a goal or completing a task.

  • For example, “Lack of funding is a major impediment to the success of the project.”
  • In a sports context, one might say, “The opposing team’s strong defense was an impediment to our victory.”
  • A student might complain, “The professor’s unclear instructions are an impediment to my understanding of the assignment.”

27. Handicaps

Handicaps are obstacles or disadvantages that make it more difficult for someone to succeed or achieve their goals. It can refer to physical, mental, or social limitations that impact a person’s abilities.

  • For instance, “His lack of experience is a handicap in this industry.”
  • In a discussion about inclusivity, someone might say, “We need to remove the handicaps that prevent certain individuals from accessing opportunities.”
  • A person might acknowledge, “Having a learning disability can be a handicap, but it doesn’t define a person’s worth or potential.”

28. Blockades

Blockades are obstacles or barriers that prevent progress or movement. It can refer to physical obstructions, such as a roadblock or barricade, as well as metaphorical barriers that hinder success or achievement.

  • For example, “Protesters set up blockades to prevent access to the building.”
  • In a discussion about personal growth, someone might say, “Fear of failure can create mental blockades that hold us back.”
  • A person might complain, “The strict rules and regulations act as blockades to innovation in this industry.”

29. Pitfalls

Pitfalls are hidden or unsuspected dangers or obstacles that can cause problems or lead to failure. It can refer to mistakes, missteps, or risks that can have negative consequences.

  • For instance, “One of the pitfalls of starting a business is underestimating the costs involved.”
  • In a discussion about relationships, someone might warn, “Jealousy can be a major pitfall in a romantic partnership.”
  • A person might advise, “Avoiding these common pitfalls will increase your chances of success.”

30. Obstructions

Obstructions are physical or metaphorical barriers or obstacles that hinder movement, progress, or achievement. It can refer to anything that stands in the way of reaching a goal or completing a task.

  • For example, “The fallen tree was an obstruction on the hiking trail.”
  • In a discussion about social justice, someone might say, “Systemic racism creates obstructions that prevent equal opportunities.”
  • A person might express frustration, “The bureaucratic processes are obstructions to getting things done efficiently.”

31. Impasses

An impasse refers to a situation where progress or resolution is blocked, often due to a disagreement or lack of agreement among parties involved. It can also refer to a standstill or a stalemate.

  • For example, in a negotiation, if both sides refuse to compromise, they might reach an impasse.
  • A person might say, “We’ve reached an impasse in our discussions and need to find a new approach.”
  • In a political context, an impasse between lawmakers might lead to a government shutdown.
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32. Deterrents

Deterrents are things that discourage or prevent someone from taking a particular action. They can be physical, emotional, or psychological obstacles that make someone think twice before proceeding.

  • For instance, increased security measures can serve as deterrents for potential criminals.
  • A person might say, “The high cost of college tuition is a deterrent for many students.”
  • In a discussion about road safety, someone might mention, “Speed bumps are effective deterrents to prevent speeding.”

33. Bumps in the road

Bumps in the road refers to obstacles or difficulties that arise during the course of a project or journey. These challenges can hinder progress or cause delays.

  • For example, a business venture might encounter unexpected financial difficulties, which are considered bumps in the road.
  • A person might say, “We’ve hit a few bumps in the road, but we’re determined to overcome them.”
  • In a discussion about personal growth, someone might reflect, “Life is full of bumps in the road, but they make us stronger.”

34. Setbacks

Setbacks are unexpected or unplanned events that cause a delay or hinder progress. They can be obstacles that require time and effort to overcome.

  • For instance, a construction project might experience setbacks due to inclement weather.
  • A person might say, “I’ve faced many setbacks in my career, but each one has taught me valuable lessons.”
  • In a discussion about achieving goals, someone might advise, “Don’t let setbacks discourage you; use them as motivation to keep going.”

35. Stumbling blocks

Stumbling blocks refer to obstacles or challenges that cause someone to stumble or struggle in their progress. These hurdles can impede success or make it difficult to move forward.

  • For example, a language barrier can be a stumbling block for someone trying to communicate in a foreign country.
  • A person might say, “Overcoming my fear of public speaking was a major stumbling block in my career.”
  • In a discussion about personal relationships, someone might mention, “Trust issues can be a stumbling block to building a strong partnership.”

36. Snafu

This term originated in the military and refers to a chaotic or messed up situation. It is often used to describe a problem or obstacle that has gone awry.

  • For example, “The project was supposed to be finished today, but there was a snafu with the delivery.”
  • In a discussion about a failed plan, someone might say, “It started out well, but then everything went snafu.”
  • A person recounting a series of unfortunate events might say, “It was one snafu after another, nothing seemed to go right.”

37. Hang-ups

This term refers to any obstacles or issues that are causing a delay or hindrance. It can be used to describe both physical and mental barriers.

  • For instance, “I can’t move forward with the project until we address these hang-ups.”
  • In a conversation about personal growth, someone might say, “I need to work through my hang-ups before I can make progress.”
  • A person discussing relationship problems might say, “We have some hang-ups that we need to resolve before we can move forward.”

38. Stalemate

This term refers to a situation where no progress can be made because neither side can gain an advantage. It often occurs in conflicts or disputes where neither party is willing to compromise.

  • For example, “The negotiations reached a stalemate, and no agreement could be reached.”
  • In a discussion about a game or competition, someone might say, “The match ended in a stalemate, with neither player able to secure a win.”
  • A person describing a difficult situation might say, “We’re at a stalemate and can’t seem to find a solution.”