If something is challenging, you better bring your "A game." It isn't going to be easy but you will get to test your skills as you push yourself, like completing a challenging crossword puzzle or a challenging hike up a mountain.

Another meaning of challenging is "causing to question values or assumptions," like a challenging movie that makes you re-evaluate your attitude about something. In other words, it challenges what you believe. People sometimes use challenging as a polite — and far more positive — substitute for troublesome or problematic, as in, "This challenging situation will require everyone's patience."

Definitions of challenging
  1. adjective
    requiring full use of your abilities or resources
    “performed the most challenging task without a mistake”
    synonyms: ambitious
    difficult, hard
    not easy; requiring great physical or mental effort to accomplish or comprehend or endure
  2. adjective
    stimulating interest or thought
    “a challenging hypothesis”
    synonyms: thought-provoking
    rousing or quickening activity or the senses
  3. adjective
    disturbingly provocative
    synonyms: intriguing
    serving or tending to provoke, excite, or stimulate; stimulating discussion or exciting controversy
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