Definition of challenged in English:



  • 1with submodifier or in combination Used euphemistically to indicate that someone suffers disability in a specified respect.

    ‘my experience of being physically challenged’
    • ‘This year, around 1,500 physically challenged children would be given special education aids as a separate budgetary allocation has been made for the purpose.’
    • ‘Mentally challenged individuals have it hard enough.’
    • ‘We identify physically challenged persons and ask them to join our association.’
    • ‘One minute he's a hermit and the next he's a mentally challenged lunatic with sudden outbursts.’
    • ‘A training project for the physically challenged is also on the anvil.’
    • ‘Special consideration could be given to those physically challenged in some way.’
    • ‘For the first time she could remember in either existence, Sara was physically challenged.’
    • ‘They invite applications from physically challenged artists between 15 and 25.’
    • ‘Yet with bit of patience and skill, it has been proven that mentally challenged kids can be trained to read and write.’
    • ‘He wanted to prove to every physically challenged person and even to the physically sound people that anything could be achieved if there was determination.’
    • ‘The FPP troupe was invited to Japan by a group of Japanese with developmentally challenged children.’
    • ‘Yet we tend to stick physically challenged people in front of the tube, where they can spend hours watching sexually explicit material that has very little to do with their reality.’
    • ‘In short, this society is a very inconvenient place for physically and mentally challenged people.’
    • ‘Special emphasis shall also be given to passenger amenities friendly to physically challenged persons.’
    • ‘I want to play Sean Penn's role of the mentally challenged father raising his daughter.’
    having a disability, wheelchair-using, paralysed
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1informal Used to indicate that someone or something is lacking or deficient in a specified respect.
      ‘I didn't know he was so vertically challenged’
      ‘today's attention-challenged teens’
      • ‘I keep trying, maybe one day I'll get the secret, until then you'll just have to put up with this poorly constructed, grammatically inept, syntax challenged journal.’
      • ‘If you are statistically challenged, you will find this chapter a difficult read.’
      • ‘‘One queue for the rich and another much longer one for the poor,’ says the intellectually challenged minister for local government.’
      • ‘Many school leavers have no service available to them come September as their government seems to be numerically challenged!’
      • ‘I am socially challenged and have a hard time trusting people.’
      • ‘Patience challenged people will tire quickly of the tedious task of unraveling strands and may push for the instant gratification of a chop.’
      • ‘To the naive or numerically challenged, this might seem miraculous.’
      • ‘Among other things, we are not a vertically challenged group.’
      • ‘But again I damn my inexplicable vertically challenged self for not being able to reach it.’


The use with a preceding adverb (e.g. physically challenged), originally intended to give a more positive tone than terms such as disabled or handicapped, arose in the US in the 1980s and quickly spread to the UK and elsewhere. Despite the serious intention the term rapidly became stalled by uses whose intention was to make fun of the attempts at euphemism and whose tone was usually clearly ironic: examples include cerebrally challenged, conversationally challenged, and follicularly challenged. See also disabled