un·​der·​tak·​er | \ ˌən-dər-ˈtā-kər How to pronounce undertaker (audio) , sense 2 is ˈən-dər-ˌtā-\

Definition of undertaker

1 : one who undertakes : one who takes the risk and management of business : entrepreneur
2 : one whose business is to prepare the dead for burial and to arrange and manage funerals
3 : an Englishman taking over forfeited lands in Ireland in the 16th and 17th centuries

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Synonyms for undertaker


funeral director, mortician

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Did You Know?

You may wonder how the word undertaker made the transition from "one who undertakes" to "one who makes a living in the funeral business." The latter meaning descends from the use of the word to mean "one who takes on business responsibilities." In the 18th century, a funeral-undertaker was someone who undertook, or managed, a funeral business. There were many undertakers in those days, undertaking all sorts of businesses, but as time went on undertaker became specifically identified with the profession of arranging burial. Today, "funeral director" is more commonly used, but undertaker still appears.

Examples of undertaker in a Sentence

the undertaker wore black clothes and a solemn expression

Recent Examples on the Web

Another posed as an undertaker, answering fact-checking calls from the newspaper on a dedicated phone line that Mr. Abel had installed, complete with its own directory-information business listing. Margalit Fox, The Seattle Times, "Alan Abel, hoaxer extraordinaire, is (on good authority) dead at 94," 18 Sep. 2018 When someone less important dies, undertakers have to hurry up. The Economist, "Cuba’s funerals: cheap and especially uncheerful," 28 June 2018 Instead, as the story goes, Hunter paid the undertaker 500 pounds to steal it and replace it with stones. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Why the Skeleton of the “Irish Giant” Could Be Buried at Sea," 26 June 2018 In the past, this small-town undertaker had always been there for his bespectacled friend. Frank Fitzpatrick, Philly.com, "The undertaker who brought Jim Konstanty to life | Frank's Place," 23 June 2018 At the cemetery, as undertakers moved the coffin underground, the sorrowful multitude broke into applause. Juan Montes, WSJ, "Barricades and Empty Streets: Nicaragua’s Leader Loses Control," 18 June 2018 No more undertakers in black suits clutching handkerchiefs, old buddies weeping in corners, telling off-color stories, nipping shots, no more covered mirrors, black dresses, skullcaps and crucifixes. Edward Hirsch, The New Yorker, "My Friends Don’t Get Buried," 16 June 2018 Overall, personal care and service work — including movie projectionists, ticket takers, child care workers and undertakers — is the second-lowest paying field in the state, with an average salary of $31,180 per year. Rebecca Lurye, courant.com, "Connecticut's 10 Lowest-Paying Jobs May Surprise You," 2 May 2018 The teacher/undertaker/tinkerer was astonished one morning to learn from the newspaper that a friend had died. Darryl Levings, kansascity, "Kansas City has been dialed in to telephone innovations from the very beginning," 2 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'undertaker.' 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 undertaker

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for undertaker

The first known use of undertaker was in the 15th century

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English Language Learners Definition of undertaker

: a person whose job is to arrange and manage funerals


un·​der·​tak·​er | \ ˈən-dər-ˌtā-kər How to pronounce undertaker (audio) \

Kids Definition of undertaker

: a person whose business is to prepare the dead for burial and to take charge of funerals


un·​der·​tak·​er | \ ˈən-dər-ˌtā-kər How to pronounce undertaker (audio) \

Medical Definition of undertaker

: an individual whose business is to prepare the dead for burial and to arrange and manage funerals

called also mortician

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More from Merriam-Webster on undertaker

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with undertaker

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for undertaker

Spanish Central: Translation of undertaker

Nglish: Translation of undertaker for Spanish Speakers

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