un·​der·​take | \ ˌən-dər-ˈtāk How to pronounce undertake (audio) \
undertook\ ˌən-​dər-​ˈtu̇k How to pronounce undertook (audio) \; undertaken\ ˌən-​dər-​ˈtā-​kən How to pronounce undertaken (audio) \; undertaking

Definition of undertake

transitive verb

1 : to take upon oneself : set about : attempt undertake a task undertake to learn to swim
2 : to put oneself under obligation to perform also : to accept as a charge or responsibility the lawyer who undertook the case
3 : guarantee, promise readily undertook that the letter should be securely conveyed— Sir Walter Scott

intransitive verb

archaic : to give surety or assume responsibility

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Synonyms & Antonyms for undertake


accept, assume, bear, shoulder, take over


disavow, disclaim, disown, repudiate

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Examples of undertake in a Sentence

He's undertaking a thorough search. The researchers undertook a series of studies.

Recent Examples on the Web

Ships involved in illicit trades undertook extensive measures to conceal their actions, according to the Treasury’s advisory. Kristin Broughton, WSJ, "Treasury Department Accuses North Korea of Evading U.S. Sanctions," 21 Mar. 2019 Nothing changes until Trusts consent and undertake any necessary engagement, including with patients. James Vincent, The Verge, "Privacy advocates sound the alarm after Google grabs DeepMind UK health app," 14 Nov. 2018 Japanese officials say the drones could undertake defensive twists and turns at g-forces so high that a human being could not withstand them, and thus be used to divert incoming missiles away from a manned fighter. The Economist, "Tomorrow’s squadron leaders will be accompanied by drones," 5 July 2018 Sources claim that Meghan and Harry, due to give birth to their first child in a matter of weeks, have undertaken huge plans to transform the rundown estate into an eco-friendly palace. Lucy Wood, Marie Claire, "Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's Big Move to Frogmore Cottage Has Been Delayed," 25 Mar. 2019 Now the team is undertaking the second part of the mission, sailing through thick sea ice en route to the ship's presumed coordinates. Sam Blum, Popular Mechanics, "Antarctic Expedition Hopeful of Finding Ernest Shackleton's Long-Lost Research Vessel," 4 Feb. 2019 Since then, the group has undertaken several fund-raising pushes and has secured major gifts from the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation and a variety of corporations and philanthropies. Maya Dukmasova, Chicago Reader, "News / Arts / Race An online fund-raising push may finally bring a monument to Ida B. Wells to Chicago," 14 Apr. 2018 While Facebook and Twitter are undertaking efforts to limit the spread of mis-information online, the fact remains that all these internet companies see themselves as distribution vehicles without any clear editorial responsibility. CBS News, "Overload: How technology is bringing us too much information," 1 Apr. 2018 If the helicopter seems like a rocket-load of eccentrics undertaking a cruise to the moon, the deeper one travels into Kamchatka, the less bombastic that analogy appears. Sophy Roberts, Condé Nast Traveler, "Exploring Kamchatka, Russia's Adventure Playground," 22 Mar. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'undertake.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of undertake

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

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Statistics for undertake

Last Updated

12 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for undertake

The first known use of undertake was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for undertake



English Language Learners Definition of undertake

: to begin or attempt (something)
: to agree or promise to do (something)


un·​der·​take | \ ˌən-dər-ˈtāk How to pronounce undertake (audio) \
undertook\ -​ˈtu̇k \; undertaken\ -​ˈtā-​kən \; undertaking

Kids Definition of undertake

1 : to plan or try to accomplish They undertook a trip around the world.
2 : to take on as a responsibility : agree I undertake to deliver your package.

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Comments on undertake

What made you want to look up undertake? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


having no equal

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