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

Starting in 1916, the best and brightest have undertaken projects to improve their communities — and the world. Roy Kent, Houston Chronicle, "Girl Scout earns Silver Award for work with Oakbend Labor and Delivery Department," 9 Aug. 2019 Today, Prince William and Kate Middleton undertook a rare summertime engagement at The King’s Cup Regatta on the Isle of Wight. Elise Taylor, Vogue, "See Adorable New Photographs of Prince George and Princess Charlotte Enjoying a Very British Boat Race," 8 Aug. 2019 But, starting in the nineteen-seventies, the N.R.A. undertook a patient and extensive effort to change the public, and eventually the judicial, understanding of the Second Amendment. Jeffrey Toobin, The New Yorker, "Politics Changed the Reading of the Second Amendment—and Can Change It Again," 5 Aug. 2019 The department undertook several reforms since 2001 and its changes were praised by a task force created by then-Gov. John Kasich. John Fritze, USA TODAY, "Donald Trump accuses Democrats of destroying cities in Cincinnati rally, avoids singling out 'Squad'," 1 Aug. 2019 Paizo undertook relatively significant changes to the skill system, how initiative order is determined, and the iconic critical success and critical failure criteria. Sam Ferguson, Ars Technica, "How to follow-up Pathfinder? Improve the game, don’t radically change its character," 30 July 2019 To combat some of the comparative invisibility of East African, and especially Kenyan, music, Awino and other industry insiders have recently undertaken a host of different initiatives. Hannah Giorgis, The Atlantic, "What’s Missing From Beyoncé’s Lion King Soundtrack," 19 July 2019 France’s government undertook a weird publicity stunt this week with President Emmanuel Macron sharing a short video on social media of a soldier carrying a rifle while piloting a flyboard. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "A Military Flyboard Doesn’t Make Any Sense," 17 July 2019 Most people undertake the trek over four days, with overnights in national park mountain huts. National Geographic, "Everything to know about Hawaii Volcanoes National Park," 15 July 2019

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

16 Aug 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).


a period when something is suspended

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