a euphemism for disabled (usually preceded by an adverb): physically challenged.
deficient or lacking (usually preceded by an adverb or noun and used facetiously): ethically challenged; math-challenged.

Origin of challenged

1980–85, Americanism
Related formsun·chal·lenged, adjective




a call or summons to engage in any contest, as of skill, strength, etc.
something that by its nature or character serves as a call to battle, contest, special effort, etc.: Space exploration offers a challenge to humankind.
a call to fight, as a battle, a duel, etc.
a demand to explain, justify, etc.: a challenge to the treasurer to itemize expenditures.
difficulty in a job or undertaking that is stimulating to one engaged in it.
Military. the demand of a sentry for identification or a countersign.
Law. a formal objection to the qualifications of a particular juror, to his or her serving, or to the legality of an entire jury.Compare peremptory challenge.
the assertion that a vote is invalid or that a voter is not legally qualified.
Biology. the process of inducing or assessing physiological or immunological activity by exposing an organism to a specific substance.
Hunting. the crying of a hound on finding a scent.

verb (used with object), chal·lenged, chal·leng·ing.

to summon to a contest of skill, strength, etc.
to take exception to; call in question: to challenge the wisdom of a procedure.
to demand as something due or rightful.
Military. to halt and demand identification or countersign from.
Law. to take formal exception to (a juror or jury).
to have a claim to; invite; arouse; stimulate: a matter which challenges attention.
to assert that (a vote) is invalid.
to assert that (a voter) is not qualified to vote.
to expose an organism to a specific substance in order to assess its physiological or immunological activity.
Archaic. to lay claim to.

verb (used without object), chal·lenged, chal·leng·ing.

to make or issue a challenge.
Hunting. (of hounds) to cry or give tongue on picking up the scent.


donated or given by a private, corporate, or government benefactor on condition that the recipient raise an additional specified amount from the public: a challenge grant.

Origin of challenge

1175–1225; Middle English chalenge < Old French, variant of chalonge < Latin calumnia calumny
Related formschal·lenge·a·ble, adjectivepre·chal·lenge, verb (used with object), pre·chal·lenged, pre·chal·leng··chal·lenge, verb (used with object), re·chal·lenged, re·chal·leng·ing.un·chal·lenge·a·ble, adjectiveun·chal·lenge·a·bly, adverb

Synonyms for challenge Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for challenged

Contemporary Examples of challenged

Historical Examples of challenged

  • So far, there was little to choose betwixt challengers and challenged.

    The White Company

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • She challenged his philosophy and gave him a chance to defend it.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • While these were being spoken, outside a sentry had challenged: "Samama!"

    The Leopard Woman

    Stewart Edward White

  • Evadna challenged from the gate, when he was ready to start.

    Good Indian

    B. M. Bower

  • Out of his puniness and fright he challenged and menaced the whole wide world.

    White Fang

    Jack London

British Dictionary definitions for challenged



(in combination) disabled or disadvantaged in some wayphysically challenged performers


verb (mainly tr)

to invite or summon (someone to do something, esp to take part in a contest)
(also intr) to call (something) into question; dispute
to make demands on; stimulatethe job challenges his ingenuity
to order (a person) to halt and be identified or to give a password
law to make formal objection to (a juror or jury)
to lay claim to (attention, etc)
(intr) hunting (of a hound) to cry out on first encountering the scent of a quarry
to inject (an experimental animal immunized with a test substance) with disease microorganisms to test for immunity to the disease


a call to engage in a fight, argument, or contest
a questioning of a statement or fact; a demand for justification or explanation
a demanding or stimulating situation, career, object, etc
a demand by a sentry, watchman, etc, for identification or a password
US an assertion that a person is not entitled to vote or that a vote is invalid
law a formal objection to a person selected to serve on a jury (challenge to the polls) or to the whole body of jurors (challenge to the array)
Derived Formschallengeable, adjectivechallenger, noun

Word Origin for challenge

C13: from Old French chalenge, from Latin calumnia calumny
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for challenged

as a euphemism for "disabled," 1985, past participle adjective from challenge (v.).



c.1200, "to rebuke," from Old French chalongier "complain, protest; haggle, quibble," from Vulgar Latin calumniare "to accuse falsely," from Latin calumniari "to accuse falsely, misrepresent, slander," from calumnia "trickery" (see calumny).

From late 13c. as "to object to, take exception to;" c.1300 as "to accuse," especially "to accuse falsely," also "to call to account;" late 14c. as "to call to fight." Also used in Middle English with sense "claim, take to oneself." Related: Challenged; challenging.



early 14c., "something one can be accused of, a fault, blemish;" mid-14c., "false accusation, malicious charge; accusation of wrong-doing," also "act of laying claim" (to something), from Anglo-French chalenge, Old French chalonge "calumny, slander; demand, opposition," in legal use, "accusation, claim, dispute," from Anglo-French chalengier, Old French chalongier "to accuse, to dispute" (see challenge (v.)). Accusatory connotations died out 17c. Meanings "an objection" in law, etc.; "a calling to fight" are from mid-15c. Meaning "difficult task" is from 1954.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper