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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for undertake


accept, assume, bear, shoulder, take over


disavow, disclaim, disown, repudiate

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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 film’s timing is controversial, with the UK deeply divided over how to leave the EU, and whether the decision to do so was undertaken fairly. Rachel Withers, Vox, "Brits want an official investigation into the Brexit Leave campaign. They’re getting an HBO drama instead.," 15 Dec. 2018 Reuters' Joseph Menn reported that the audit was apparently undertaken by Nardello & Co, a global investigative firm founded by former US federal prosecutor Daniel Nardello. Sean Gallagher, Ars Technica, "Audit: No Chinese surveillance implants in Supermicro boards found," 11 Dec. 2018 Your impulse to fix them is noble, but the task should not be undertaken lightly (sorry, unavoidable pun), because the strands contain scores, if not hundreds, of tiny incandescent bulbs. David Agrell, Popular Mechanics, "How to Fix a String of Christmas Lights," 12 Oct. 2018 Tuggle said crime suppression operations had been carried out in other districts of the city and that this was just another area where that initiative was being undertaken. Fox News, "Police: Suspect dead, officer wounded in Baltimore shootout," 24 Sep. 2018 Schlitterbahn said that audit took one day and was undertaken by one KDOL employee. Steve Vockrodt, kansascity, "A month after Schlitterbahn's opening, four rides remain closed at the KCK water park," 10 July 2018 Other countries could replicate the actions that are currently being undertaken by that official [Trump]. Alice Driver, Longreads, "The Road to Asylum," 30 June 2018 Renovations and building projects must be undertaken to provide starter and affordable homes, Porter said. Amy Lavalley, Post-Tribune, "Democratic councilwoman announces bid for Valparaiso mayor nomination," 12 June 2018 If an officer is not available, one can be appointed from another state agency or a procurement process can be undertaken, said Nancy Rodriguez. Mandy Mclaren, The Courier-Journal, "The state education board is meeting this week. Here's what to know," 4 June 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.

See More

First Known Use of undertake

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about undertake

Statistics for undertake

Last Updated

4 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for undertake

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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 \
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.

Keep scrolling for more

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).


to settle judicially or to act as judge

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Homophone Quiz

  • three-bears-two-of-them-look-like-theyre-whispering-to-a-third-bear-who-looks-chuffed-to-be-the-center-of-attention
  • In order to judge how people felt, the senator's office hired a firm to take a ______.
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!