Meaning of “challenge” in the English Dictionary

"challenge" in British English

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uk /ˈtʃæl.ɪndʒ/ us /ˈtʃæl.ɪndʒ/

challenge noun (DIFFICULT JOB)

B1 [ C or U ] (the situation of being faced with) something that needs great mental or physical effort in order to be done successfully and therefore tests a person's ability:

Finding a solution to this problem is one of the greatest challenges faced by scientists today.
You know me - I like a challenge.
It's going to be a difficult job but I'm sure she'll rise to the challenge.

More examples

  • Europe's finest golfers are getting ready for the challenge of the Ryder Cup.
  • An awesome challenge lies ahead of them.
  • Finding a cure for cancer is one of the biggest challenges facing medical researchers.
  • I've promised to finish the task by Friday, but it's going to be quite a challenge.
  • It could be a bit of a challenge getting the piano through the doorway.

challenge noun (INVITATION)

[ C ] an invitation to compete or take part, especially in a game or argument:

"I bet you can't eat all that food on your plate." "Is that a challenge?"
[ + to infinitive ] She issued a challenge to her rival candidates to take part in a public debate.

[ C ] an invitation to do something difficult, funny, or embarrassing, especially on social media, often as a way of raising money for a good cause:

The Ice Bucket Challenge, in which people filmed themselves being doused with icy water, raised awareness and over $100 million for the ALS Association.

More examples

  • He issued Tom with a challenge to come out and fight.
  • He thinks he can get to the top of the mountain quickest. That is his challenge to us.

challenge noun (REFUSAL)

[ C ] specialized law the act of refusing to accept someone as a member of a jury:

A challenge to a member of the jury should be made before the trial begins.

challengeverb [ T ]

uk /ˈtʃæl.ɪndʒ/ us /ˈtʃæl.ɪndʒ/

challenge verb [ T ] (DOUBT)

B2 to question if something is true or legal:

Children challenge their parents' authority far more nowadays than they did in the past.

More examples

  • It was courageous of her to challenge the managing director's decision.
  • Six journalists sought to challenge in court the legality of the ban on broadcasting.
  • Union representatives are planning to challenge New Labour policy at the party conference.
  • They did not dare to challenge the sacred cow of parliamentary democracy.
  • They challenged all our beliefs.

(Definition of “challenge” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"challenge" in American English

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us /ˈtʃæl·əndʒ/

challenge noun (DIFFICULT JOB)

[ C/U ] something needing great mental or physical effort in order to be done successfully, or the situation of facing this kind of effort:

[ C ] It’s a challenge being in a marriage when both partners have high-pressure jobs.
[ C ] No matter how long you write, poetry remains a challenge.
[ C ] Germany faces broad challenges in the coming years.

challenge noun (EXPRESSION OF DOUBT)

[ C/U ] a questioning or expression of doubt about the truth or purpose of something, or the right of a person to have or do something:

[ U ] Because of the way this research was done, its findings are open to challenge.
[ C ] The president is clearly anticipating a new challenge to his authority.

challenge noun (COMPETITION)

[ C ] something that competes with you or is a threat:

The governor barely survived a challenge from an unknown opponent in the primary.
adjective us /ˈtʃæl·ən·dʒɪŋ/

For a reporter, covering the White House is a challenging assignment.

challengeverb [ T ]

us /ˈtʃæl·əndʒ/

challenge verb [ T ] (ASK TO COMPETE)

to invite someone to take part in a competition:

The other candidates challenged the president to take part in a debate.

challenge verb [ T ] (PRESENT A DIFFICULT TEST)

to present tasks to someone that need great mental or physical effort in order to be done successfully:

It’s easy enough to crank out college graduates, but a good education should really challenge them.

challenge verb [ T ] (EXPRESS DOUBT)

to express or represent doubt about the truth of something:

Advanced computers challenge long-held notions about intelligence and thought.

(Definition of “challenge” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"challenge" in Business English

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uk /ˈtʃælɪndʒ/ us

[ C or U ] a job, duty, or situation that is difficult because you must use a lot of effort, determination, and skill in order to be successful:

accept/face/meet a challenge After significant losses last year, the company now faces the challenge of trying to repair its reputation with investors.
be/pose/present a challenge The weakness of the dollar could pose a challenge to the company's expansion plans.
As a software developer he enjoys the challenge of working with cutting-edge technology.
She was getting bored at work and felt she needed a new challenge.
Finding time to do the work has proven a real challenge.
a big/major/serious challenge

[ C ] an invitation for someone to compete against you or for you to prove that you can achieve a particular goal:

challenge from sb Responding to a challenge from dissident shareholders, the board approved a number of steps to enhance shareholder value.

[ C ] an act of asking whether something is true or legal, or whether someone has the authority or right to do something:

mount/launch a challenge against Unions are planning to launch a legal challenge against the airline for changing the work schedules of 14,000 cabin crew.

challengeverb [ T ]

uk /ˈtʃælɪndʒ/ us

to officially question whether something is true or legal, or whether someone has the authority or right to do something:

Keep copies of all written correspondence to support your case if the company later challenges you for further payment.
Corporate lawyers challenged the ban, but the court upheld it last year.

to compete against someone or ask them to prove that they can achieve a particular goal:

challenge sb to do sth Consumers are challenging manufacturers to adopt greener policies.

to encourage someone to increase their skills, determination, abilities, etc. by making them do something new or difficult:

People are just looking for jobs that will challenge and inspire them.

to cause difficulties for someone or something:

Local businesses have been greatly challenged by the recession.

(Definition of “challenge” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)