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

And in June the FAA discovered an entirely new safety problem with the 737 Max, requiring the company to undertake yet another software fix. Washington Post, "Airlines cancel thousands of flights as Boeing works to fix 737 Max software problems," 14 July 2019 For much of the nineteenth century, Greenland was a tantalizing destination for explorers who hoped to win fame, but the first person to seriously undertake a crossing of the island was the Norwegian Fridtjof Nansen, who made the journey in 1888. Colin Dickey, The New Republic, "The Secrets in Greenland’s Ice," 11 July 2019 Among the biggest actors is SoftBank, the technology and telecommunications giant, which has offered to undertake ¥600 billion ($5.5 billion) in buybacks. Kosaku Narioka, WSJ, "Once a Miser, Japan Inc. Is Opening Its Wallet to Buy Back Shares," 10 July 2019 My impression is that colleagues and friends are often too embarrassed to undertake the hard task of trying to intervene with people who are dealing with alcohol and drug abuse. New York Times, "Why Wouldn’t My Doctor Tell Me What Treatment to Get?," 10 July 2019 Secondly, the statute requires the MLC to undertake a number of duties with respect to unclaimed royalties. Ed Christman, Billboard, "Why The U.S. Copyright Office Chose The Mechanical Licensing Collective," 5 July 2019 The whole family is set to undertake a royal tour of South Africa, with Harry also slated to travel to Malawi, Angola, and Botswana. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Prince Harry May Meet Beyoncé at The Lion King's European Premiere," 1 July 2019 The postponement will allow the three churches in charge of the Church of the Nativity to undertake a restoration of the church’s grotto, WAFA reports. Fox News, "‘Magnificent’ baptismal font discovered at Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity, Palestinian officials say," 24 June 2019 Violette said the next step for the TEDC would be to undertake a feasibility study to determine the size and location of a food hall and a culinary incubator which would allow entrepreneurs to rent kitchen space. Mayra Cruz, Houston Chronicle, "Tomball EDC explores culinary incubator, halts second business park," 21 June 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

19 Jul 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).


something desired as essential

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