un·der·take | \ ˌən-dər-ˈtāk \
undertook\ˌən-dər-ˈtu̇k \; undertaken\ˌən-dər-ˈtā-kən \; 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

The 15-greenhouse, 10-employee business has expanded from the initial drop-in customers to include commercial interests — landscapers doing restoration work, botanical gardens and even schools undertaking classroom and field projects. Leah Brennan, baltimoresun.com, "Family-owned and operated business in Parkville blooms with native plants," 9 July 2018 The Judicial Crisis Network has promised to undertake its own advertising campaign, focusing on Democratic senators in states that Trump won in 2016 who are facing reelection in the fall. Michael Scherer, BostonGlobe.com, "Democrats target key GOP senators in battle over Supreme Court," 5 July 2018 The Judicial Crisis Network has promised to undertake its own advertising campaign, focusing on Democratic senators in states that Trump won in 2016 who are facing reelection in the fall. Michael Scherer, Anchorage Daily News, "Democrats target Murkowski, Collins in campaign against Supreme Court nominee," 5 July 2018 Two-year yields have climbed as policy makers have raised rates to normalize monetary policy following extraordinary stimulus undertaken in the wake of the financial crisis. Daniel Kruger, WSJ, "Behind the Flattening Yield Curve: Fed Rate Increases and Tariff Fights," 5 July 2018 Pilot programs have been undertaken in Indiana and Orange County, Calif. Warren Richey, The Christian Science Monitor, "Ahead of midterms, states scrambling to fend off cyberattacks," 3 July 2018 Broward County Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie has sent a letter to all parents in the Broward school system outlining new school safety measures being undertaken in the district. Dan Sweeney, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Broward school superintendent Robert Runcie has announced new security plans. Are they enough?," 4 June 2018 The American tradition of profound scientific discovery, undertaken in a context of deeply individualistic liberal democracy, is our best hope. Sean W. Fleming, WIRED, "Lessons from Montecito: Science's Credibility Is At Stake," 14 May 2018 The occasion for the rollout is that former FBI Director James Comey is on the very cusp of releasing a new book and is undertaking the associated media publicity campaign. Matthew Yglesias, Vox, "The RNC’s new Lyin’ Comey website, explained," 12 Apr. 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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Phrases Related to undertake

give an undertaking

Statistics for undertake

Last Updated

30 Aug 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for undertake

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

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English Language Learners Definition of undertake

: to begin or attempt (something)

: to agree or promise to do (something)


un·der·take | \ ˌən-dər-ˈtāk \
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).


the setting in which something occurs

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