chal·​lenge | \ ˈcha-lənj How to pronounce challenge (audio) \
challenged; challenging

Definition of challenge

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to dispute especially as being unjust, invalid, or outmoded : impugn new data that challenges old assumptions
2a : to confront or defy boldly : dare he challenged his critics to prove his guilt
b : to call out to duel or combat challenged his rival to a duel
c : to invite into competition he challenged his brother to a tennis match
3 : to question formally the legality or legal qualifications of challenge a juror
4 : to arouse or stimulate especially by presenting with difficulties she wants a job that will challenge her
5 : to order to halt and prove identity the sentry challenged the stranger
6 : to demand as due or deserved : require an event that challenges explanation
7 : to administer a physiological (see physiological sense 2) and especially an immunologic challenge to (an organism or cell)

intransitive verb

1 : to make or present a challenge when the appropriate moment challenged, he was capable of … leadership— C. H. Driver
2 : to take legal exception



Definition of challenge (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a stimulating task or problem looking for new challenges
2a : a calling to account or into question : protest a challenge to unauthorized use of public funds
b : an exception taken to a juror before the juror is sworn a challenge of a prospective juror based on a specific cause or reason
c : a questioning of the right or validity of a vote or voter
d : a sentry's command to halt and prove identity The intruder fled at the sentry's challenge.
3a : an invitation to compete in a sport He accepted my challenge to a game of chess.
b : a summons (see summons entry 1 sense 2) that is often threatening, provocative, stimulating, or inciting specifically : a summons to a duel to answer an affront
4 : the act or process of provoking or testing physiological activity by exposure to a specific substance especially : a test of immunity by exposure to an antigen

Other Words from challenge


challenger noun
challengeable \ ˈcha-​lən-​jə-​bəl How to pronounce challenge (audio) \ adjective

Examples of challenge in a Sentence

Verb A number of doctors are challenging the study's claims. The new lawsuit challenges the lower court's decision. She's been challenged on her handling of the problem. None of them were willing to challenge the referee on the call. It's a game that will challenge a child's imagination. The work doesn't challenge him anymore, and he's often bored. Noun The next major challenge for the company is to improve its distribution capabilities. Teaching adolescents can be quite a challenge. The band feels ready for new challenges. If he takes on the new project he will face the greatest challenge of his career. Management is seeking ways to better meet the challenge of future growth. The ski slope offers a high degree of challenge. Do you accept my challenge to a game of chess? The senator may face a challenge from within her own party. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb In hers, the bride promised to love, celebrate and challenge the groom. New York Times, 29 July 2022 Other low-impact, high-intensity exercises include battle ropes, which will get your heart pumping and challenge muscle groups from head to toe, and kettlebell swings and strength exercises like squats and deadlifts. Tatiana Lampa, Good Housekeeping, 28 July 2022 Last year’s festival was not able to include the blues challenge, so this is the grand return of that element. Hartford Courant, 28 July 2022 Nor was the vote driven by people thinking Mottley would challenge the global finance system or solve climate change. Abrahm Lustgarten, ProPublica, 27 July 2022 The clause is bizarre, seemingly unenforceable and something the NFL Players Association might challenge. Kent Somers, USA TODAY, 26 July 2022 Yet some candidates for office across Arizona in 2022 continue to challenge or question the results of the 2020 presidential election. Sasha Hupka, The Arizona Republic, 26 July 2022 Expect McLaughlin to challenge the 37-year-old record in the open 400 of 47.60 as soon as this summer and continue to elevate her status as one of track’s all-time greats. Brian Metzler, Outside Online, 26 July 2022 Time will tell if the last step from 6 to 2 is right around the corner, or if that last part will challenge mathematicians for decades longer. Dave Linkletter, Popular Mechanics, 22 July 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Human diversity research also includes the challenge of studying the complex interplay of genes and the environment, such as diet and education, among different populations. David Reese And Kári Stefánsson, STAT, 2 Aug. 2022 The main challenge of consciousness today is the scale. Albana Vrioni, Forbes, 1 Aug. 2022 For Segera’s owner, Jochen Zeitz—who also happens to be the CEO of Harley-Davidson—taking stewardship of that sprawling landscape has been the challenge of a lifetime. Alexandra Kirkman, Fortune, 31 July 2022 The concern would be the case potentially becoming a platform for a broader challenge of various aspects of Title IX, the 50th anniversary of which was marked in June. Steve Berkowitz, USA TODAY, 30 July 2022 The logistic challenge of providing the therapy to people at a reasonable cost is the primary reason patients still turn to other options. James Riordon, Scientific American, 29 July 2022 But as the outbreak grows, so, too, does the challenge of combating it. Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic, 29 July 2022 With Sony’s film adaptation of Where the Crawdads Sing, writer Lucy Alibar and director Olivia Newman faced the challenge of turning Delia Owens’ nearly 400-page best-selling novel into a two-hour movie that would connect with audiences. Hilary Lewis, The Hollywood Reporter, 28 July 2022 Because Korea has the challenge of its northern neighbor, who also conducts an aggressive policy, so our task is to equip the Polish Armed Forces with modern equipment. Brad Lendon, CNN, 27 July 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'challenge.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of challenge


13th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 6


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3b

History and Etymology for challenge

Verb and Noun

Middle English chalengen to accuse, from Anglo-French chalenger, from Latin calumniari to accuse falsely, from calumnia calumny

Learn More About challenge

Time Traveler for challenge

Time Traveler

The first known use of challenge was in the 13th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near challenge



challenge cup

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for challenge

Last Updated

3 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Challenge.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Aug. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for challenge


chal·​lenge | \ ˈcha-lənj How to pronounce challenge (audio) \
challenged; challenging

Kids Definition of challenge

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to object to as bad or incorrect : dispute The coach challenged the referee's call.
2 : to confront or defy boldly He challenged them to prove him wrong.
3 : to invite or dare to take part in a contest Are you challenging us to a race?
4 : to be difficult enough to be interesting to : test the skill or ability of This puzzle will challenge you.
5 : to halt and demand identification from The guard challenged the stranger.

Other Words from challenge

challenger noun



Kids Definition of challenge (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : an objection to something as not being true, genuine, correct, or proper or to a person (as a juror) as not being correct, qualified, or approved
2 : a call or dare for someone to compete in a contest or sport
3 : a difficult task or problem Memorizing the poem was a challenge.
4 : an order to stop and provide identification


transitive verb
chal·​lenge | \ ˈchal-ənj How to pronounce challenge (audio) \
challenged; challenging

Medical Definition of challenge

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to administer a physiological and especially an immunologic challenge to (an organism or cell)



Medical Definition of challenge (Entry 2 of 2)

: the process of provoking or testing physiological activity by exposure to a specific substance especially : a test of immunity by exposure to an antigen after immunization against it


transitive verb
challenged; challenging

Legal Definition of challenge

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to dispute especially as being invalid or unjust counsel challenged this interpretation
2 : to question formally (as by a suit or motion) the legality or legal qualifications of challenge the regulations especially : to make a challenge to (a trier of fact) the grounds for challenging prospective jurors — W. R. LaFave and A. W. Scott, Jr. — compare recuse



Legal Definition of challenge (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : a calling into question especially : a questioning of validity or legality : objection when the challenge to the statute is in effect a challenge of this basic assumption Kramer v. Union Free School Dist. No. 15, 395 U.S. 621 (1969) — see also batson challenge
2 : a request to disqualify a trier of fact (as a jury member or judge) — compare recusal, strike
challenge for cause
: a challenge especially of a prospective juror based on a specific and stated cause or reason
challenge to the array
: a challenge of an entire jury that raises objections to the selection process
peremptory challenge
: a challenge especially of a prospective juror that does not require a stated cause or reason

More from Merriam-Webster on challenge

Nglish: Translation of challenge for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of challenge for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about challenge


Test Your Vocabulary

Commonly Confused Words Quiz

  • vector image of a face with thought expression
  • I went to the ______ store to buy a birthday card.
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!