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

The mission, named Artemis after the Greek moon goddess and twin sister of Apollo, is the most commercial of any other space expedition ever undertaken. Peter Fimrite, SFChronicle.com, "Getting to the moon takes practice — on a giant machine in Mountain View," 4 June 2019 Seattle is one of the only American cities undertaking major investments in infrastructure. First Light, The Seattle Times, "Embracing city life at new art-filled condo tower," 29 Mar. 2019 The rest of the two-day tour saw the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge undertake a number of charitable activities. Vogue, "Is This Princess Charlotte’s Adorable Nickname?," 1 Mar. 2019 The fueling process, which must be undertaken at the launch site, can take hours to complete--time in which the missiles are vulnerable to detection and attack. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Satellite Startup Accidentally Spots Secret North Korean Missile Test," 7 May 2019 Navy Secretary Richard Spencer said the service would undertake extensive Arctic operations this summer and fall, while the Marine Corps commandant said that Marines are committed to training in Alaska to an extent not seen in decades. Ben Kesling, WSJ, "U.S. Navy Plans to Extend Its Reach in the Arctic," 1 May 2019 That road map also said that American and Turkish forces would undertake joint patrols to oversee security in the city, and vet local Syrian commanders and officials to take over local security and governance in the following months. New York Times, "U.S. and Turkey Agree on Kurds’ Withdrawal From Syrian Town," 4 June 2018 Many of the planned stops on that trip were the sort any EPA administrator would undertake, according to Pruitt's itinerary. Juliet Eilperin And Brady Dennis, chicagotribune.com, "Influential GOP donors and lobbyists played key roles in Scott Pruitt's foreign travel," 4 May 2018 Many of the planned stops on that trip were the sort any EPA administrator would undertake, according to Pruitt’s itinerary. Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post, "Influential outsiders have played a key role in Scott Pruitt’s foreign travel," 3 May 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

7 Jun 2019

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 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).


behavior toward others

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