I am looking for a single word that can be used to describe an activity (e.g., work or studies) that is both “fun” and “challenging”. Words I have tried include “intriguing”, “fascinating”, “engaging”, “captivating” and “absorbing”, but I feel that these all are slightly off the mark, usually because while they might describe an activity that is both “fun” and “challenging”, they don't necessarily do so in my eyes/ears.

However, as English is not my first language, I might very well be incorrect. Is there are word that conveys the meaning of “fun” and “interesting”, and if so, which word?

  • 4
    Part of the difficulty in this question may lie in the dichotomy between fun, which denotes amusement and diversion (its origin lies in a 16th C word for foolishness - cf. dictionary.reference.com) and challenging, which could be just the opposite. If we offer people something that's fun and challenging it's like mixing "salty" and "sweet" - a tasty combination, to be sure, but nothing like the one-word "umami". I think the concept comes across in the two words.
    – Rob_Ster
    Feb 8, 2016 at 20:02
  • Puzzling means difficult to solve, which for some is also fun. Feb 10, 2016 at 3:29
  • @cheflo The ones you have given are great. I'd add "stimulating," "thrilling," "exciting," "inspiring," "beautiful," "prepossessing," "ennobling," "engrossing," and (least interestingly) "interesting." But you're right; we need a better word for this most relevant concept to human existence.
    – SAH
    Nov 1, 2016 at 20:35

2 Answers 2



Google definition:


making someone satisfied or happy because of fully developing their character or abilities.

"fully developing" one's character or ability is not an easy task for most, so it's not really a far cry from challenging.

When someone describes their work as fulfilling, I take it to mean that their work is challenging but very enjoyable because it suits their interests.

  • Interesting suggestion! My original intent was to describe the activity as "fulfilling, fun and challenging", and I was looking to abbreviate it to two words. Your comment made me realize that maybe "fulfilling" encompasses all those adjectives and I can be content with one word at this stage. However, I don't think it is a good word to convey that something is "fun and challenging", as it is not restricted to only those two properties. Feb 10, 2016 at 19:56

The word rewarding comes to mind..perhaps not exactly what you are looking for, but encompasses both words to some degree in my opinion.

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