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From Middle English chalenge, palatalized variant of Middle English calenge, calange (an accusation, claim), from Old French chalenge, chalonge, palatalized Central French variants of Old Northern French calenge, calonge, from Latin calumnia (a false accusation, calumny), from Proto-Indo-European *kēl-, *ḱēl- (invocation; to beguile, feign, charm, cajole, deceive). Cognate with Old English hōl (calumny).


  • IPA(key): /ˈtʃæl.ɪndʒ/, /ˈtʃæl.əndʒ/
  • (file)


challenge (plural challenges)

  1. A confrontation; a dare.
    1. An instigation or antagonization intended to convince a person to perform an action they otherwise would not.
      • 2013 November 30, Paul Davis, “Letters: Say it as simply as possible”, in The Economist, volume 409, number 8864:
        Congratulations on managing to use the phrase “preponderant criterion” in a chart (“On your marks”, November 9th). Was this the work of a kakorrhaphiophobic journalist set a challenge by his colleagues, or simply an example of glossolalia?
    2. A bid to overcome something.
      a challenge to the king's authority
      • 2012 May 5, Phil McNulty, “Chelsea 2-1 Liverpool”, in BBC Sport:
        For Liverpool, their season will now be regarded as a relative disappointment after failure to add the FA Cup to the Carling Cup and not mounting a challenge to reach the Champions League places.
    3. (sports) An attempt to take possession; a tackle
      • 2011 October 1, Saj Chowdhury, “Wolverhampton 1-2 Newcastle”, in BBC Sport:
        Argentine midfielder Jonas Gutierrez added a superb second when he surged past four challenges to fire in low.
    4. A summons to fight a duel; also, the letter or message conveying the summons.
    5. The act of a sentry in halting a person and demanding the countersign, or (by extension) the action of a computer system demanding a password, etc.
    6. An attempt to have a work of literature restricted or removed from a public library or school curriculum.
  2. A difficult task, especially one that the person making the attempt finds more enjoyable because of that difficulty.
  3. (law) A procedure or action.
    1. (law, rare) A judge's interest in the result of the case for which he or she should not be allowed to sit the case, e.g. a conflict of interest.
      Consanguinity in direct line is a challenge for a judge when he or she is sitting cases.
    2. The act of appealing a ruling or decision of a court of administrative agency.
    3. The act of seeking to remove a judge, arbitrator or other judicial or semi-judicial figure for reasons of alleged bias or incapacity.
      We're still waiting to hear how the court rules on our challenge of the arbitrator based on conflict of interest.
    4. (US) An exception to a person as not legally qualified to vote. The challenge must be made when the ballot is offered.
  4. (hunting) The opening and crying of hounds at first finding the scent of their game.

Derived terms[edit]


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.


challenge (third-person singular simple present challenges, present participle challenging, simple past and past participle challenged)

  1. To invite someone to take part in a competition.
    We challenged the boys next door to a game of football.
  2. To dare someone.
    • John Locke (1632-1705)
      I challenge any man to make any pretence to power by right of fatherhood.
  3. To dispute something.
    to challenge the accuracy of a statement or of a quotation
  4. (law) To make a formal objection to a juror.
  5. (obsolete) To claim as due; to demand as a right.
  6. (obsolete) To censure; to blame.
    • Holland
      He complained of the emperor [] and challenged them for that he had no greater revenues [] from them.
  7. (military) To question or demand the countersign from (one who attempts to pass the lines).
    The sentinel challenged us with "Who goes there?"
  8. (US) To object to the reception of the vote of, e.g. on the ground that the person is not qualified as a voter.
  9. (Canada, US) To take (a final exam) in order to get credit for a course without taking it.
    • 1996, Senate Legislative Record ... Legislature State of Maine[1]:
      I mean if you go in and want to challenge an exam it cost you half of your course money. If you don't pass the exam, that money is credited toward taking the course. What have you got to lose to challenge an exam, or do a competency exam?
    • 1997, Carol Gino, The Nurse's Story[2]:
      The only time I went to class was to challenge an exam. My marks were good. But there was one class I never missed, “Nursing Process and the New Philosophy in Nursing.”
    • 2006, Diana Huggins, Exam/cram 70-291: Implementing, Managing, and Maintaining a Windows Server 2003 Network Infrastructure[3], page 2:
      Although we strongly recommend that you keep practicing until your scores top the 75% mark, 80% would be a good goal, to give yourself some margin for error in a real exam situation[…]. After you hit that point, you should be ready to challenge the exam.



The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.

Related terms[edit]



Borrowing from English challenge, originally from Old French chalonge.


challenge m (plural challenges)

  1. challenge

Further reading[edit]