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

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

Synonyms for undertaker


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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 The life of an undertaker might seem radically different from that of a writer, but there are some meaningful similarities: Both jobs require a sensitivity to emotional pain, a sense of duty to attend to grief, and a deft way with words. Thomas Lynch, The Atlantic, 24 Apr. 2022 Korean cast includes Yoo Hae-jin (the undertaker), Kim Ok-vin (White Marten), and Park Jeong-min (the swordsman). Todd Spangler, Variety, 17 Feb. 2022 In 1902, her ancestor Robert Elliott was one of the early African Americans in Baltimore to officially receive an undertaker’s license. Susan Orlean, The New Yorker, 1 Mar. 2022 The undertaker announced that this was the loudest his funeral home had ever been. Kevin Fisher-paulson, San Francisco Chronicle, 1 Mar. 2022 But a Dream follows an undertaker who accidentally awakens the ghosts of an ancient swordsman and the recently deceased warrior who saved his village. Stephanie Mlot, PCMAG, 18 Feb. 2022 When Igor Vovkovinskiy died, His undertaker measured, sighed, Then ordered up a custom coffin To send this near eight-footer off in. Washington Post, 27 Jan. 2022 Louis Rago, a Chicago undertaker, flew to Miami to oversee care of Capone’s body and prepare it for transport to Illinois, the Tribune reported. Kori Rumore, chicagotribune.com, 20 Jan. 2022 Instead, his father found an undertaker and bought a shoebox-sized casket. Rick Schultz, Variety, 7 Jan. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of undertaker

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

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Last Updated

19 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Undertaker.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/undertaker. Accessed 21 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for undertaker


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

More from Merriam-Webster on undertaker

Nglish: Translation of undertaker for Spanish Speakers


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