A challenge is something that puts you to the test — like running your first marathon or reading War and Peace.

Challenge, as a verb, is derived from a Latin word meaning "to accuse falsely," and it is still used much as it was in the 13th century, in the sense of questioning whether something is true or right. Students sometimes challenge a weeknight curfew, and lawyers might challenge the evidence submitted by the other side in a lawsuit. Challenge is also used as a noun for a competition in which people challenge one another to prove that they’re the best at something.

Definitions of challenge
  1. noun
    a call to engage in a contest or fight
    synonyms: gauntlet
    see moresee less
    show 7 types...
    hide 7 types...
    dare, daring
    a challenge to do something dangerous or foolhardy
    a bold challenge
    a challenge to a fight or duel
    a hostile challenge
    calling into question, demand for explanation
    a challenge to defend what someone has said
    demand for identification
    as by a sentry
    gantlet, gauntlet
    to offer or accept a challenge
    type of:
    speech act
    the use of language to perform some act
  2. verb
    issue a challenge to
    “Fischer challenged Spassky to a match”
    see moresee less
    show 19 types...
    hide 19 types...
    provoke, stimulate
    provide the needed stimulus for
    challenge in turn
    call into question, oppugn, question
    challenge the accuracy, probity, or propriety of
    challenge the honesty or veracity of
    attack as false or wrong
    dare, defy
    call one's bluff
    ask to prove what someone is claiming
    call out
    challenge to a duel
    remand, remit, send back
    refer (a matter or legal case) to another committee or authority or court for decision
    take a court case to a higher court for review
    action, litigate, process, sue
    institute legal proceedings against; file a suit against
    engage in legal proceedings
    entice, lure, tempt
    provoke someone to do something through (often false or exaggerated) promises or persuasion
    cause (a stream or river) to erode, as by an uplift of the land
    stimulate to remember
    incite, instigate, set off, stir up
    provoke or stir up
    face with defiance or impudence
    process fast and efficiently
    agitate, foment, stir up
    try to stir up (e.g., public opinion)
    type of:
    bid, invite
    ask someone in a friendly way to do something
  3. verb
    take exception to
    “She challenged his claims”
    synonyms: dispute, gainsay
    see moresee less
    challenge the sincerity or truthfulness of
    challenge (somebody) to make good on a statement; charge with or censure for an offense
    type of:
    contend, contest, repugn
    make the subject of dispute, contention, or litigation
  4. noun
    questioning a statement and demanding an explanation
    “his challenge of the assumption that Japan is still our enemy”
    see moresee less
    type of:
    inquiring, questioning
    a request for information
  5. verb
    raise a formal objection in a court of law
    synonyms: take exception
    see moresee less
    challenge (a decision)
    type of:
    express or raise an objection or protest or criticism or express dissent
  6. noun
    a formal objection to the selection of a particular person as a juror
    see moresee less
    type of:
    the speech act of objecting
  7. noun
    a demand by a sentry for a password or identification
    see moresee less
    type of:
    an urgent or peremptory request
  8. verb
    ask for identification
    see moresee less
    type of:
    bespeak, call for, quest, request
    express the need or desire for; ask for
  9. noun
    a demanding or stimulating situation
    “they reacted irrationally to the challenge of Russian power”
    see moresee less
    type of:
    situation, state of affairs
    the general state of things; the combination of circumstances at a given time
Word Family

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week