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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for undertake



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 Boehm and attorneys for both sides agreed to hold periodic telephone status conversations to discuss the parties readiness to undertake mediation. Alexandria Burris, The Indianapolis Star, "Developer, city of Indianapolis still in mediation over former GM stamping plant site," 19 June 2020 Taylor Levy, an immigration attorney in El Paso, said the expulsion policy has prompted many migrants in northern Mexico to undertake more perilous border crossings. Camilo Montoya-galvez, CBS News, "U.S. ramps up mass expulsions of migrants as border crossings rise," 13 June 2020 Darwin was desperate to undertake a similar scientific odyssey. National Geographic, "Darwin's first—and only—trip around the world began a scientific revolution," 11 June 2020 For now, Chinese officials show little inclination to undertake such a voyage. The Economist, "The 24-body problem The yuan has been one of the world’s most stable major currencies," 11 June 2020 The Jama Masjid authorities have asked visitors to undertake the wuzu, a practice of washing one’s hands, feet, and face before prayers, at home instead of the mosque premises. Manavi Kapur, Quartz India, "India’s religious places are tweaking age-old traditions for safety as the pandemic rages on," 10 June 2020 In the end, though, that says somewhat less about these activities themselves or individuals that undertake them than about the implosion of the social contract at large. J.c. Pan, The New Republic, "Small Acts of Care in a Failed State," 10 June 2020 The House would have required in-writing permission before the Health Department could undertake what is known as contact tracing. USA TODAY, "Fest cancellations, mixed-up results, unemployment slowdown: News from around our 50 states," 5 June 2020 To get around the issue of small underpowered studies like this, the World Health Organization asked a group of researchers at McMaster University to undertake an exhaustive review of the medical literature. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Do face masks help? Studies leaning toward yes," 4 June 2020

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

Time Traveler for undertake

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for undertake

Last Updated

22 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Undertake.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/undertake. Accessed 3 Jul. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for undertake


How to pronounce undertake (audio)

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.

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).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

A More Exception(al) Quiz

  • hot dog  hot dog  hot dog  hot dog cat
  • Which of the following words is not a synonym for ‘a young person’?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


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!