undertaker

noun
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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for undertaker

Synonyms

funeral director, mortician

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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

There are certainly other types of people who creep us out; taxidermists and undertakers made a good showing on the creepy occupation spectrum. Frank T. Mcandrew, Quartzy, "The psychology behind why we find clowns so creepy," 6 Sep. 2019 There are certainly other types of people who creep us out; taxidermists and undertakers made a good showing on the creepy occupation spectrum. Frank T. Mcandrew, CNN, "Why clowns like Pennywise from 'IT Chapter 2' give us the creeps," 6 Sep. 2019 The fact that hedge funds, like undertakers and doctors, may profit from unsavory events doesn't necessarily make those profits wrong. Stephen Gandel, CBS News, "Hedge funds are making millions off Europe's killer heat waves," 20 Aug. 2019 Ray McCready, the Mooresville undertaker who embalmed Dillinger’s body sharply criticized the Chicago coroner’s office of mutilating the corpse. Dawn Mitchell, Indianapolis Star, "John Dillinger's last meal included red peppers. What we know about the outlaw's autopsy and burial.," 2 Aug. 2019 Pavlov is studying his father, the undertaker, as a funeral procession slinks by. Nathan Deuel, Los Angeles Times, "Review: A love note to Beirut and a lament for war — Rawi Hage’s latest is a hell of a story," 20 July 2019 Nevada Highway Patrol says passengers must be alive and breathing in order to be counted A routine traffic stop resulted in a peculiar lesson on driving rules when an undertaker was found transporting a deceased person in the HOV lane in Las Vegas. Robyn Merrett, PEOPLE.com, "Highway Patrol Pulls Over Undertaker in HOV Lane Who Jokingly Argues Corpse in Hearse Should Count," 4 July 2019 Does the chaos that engulfs Centerville have something to do with the strange new undertaker Zelda (Tilda Swinton), who practices arcane martial arts and converses with her deceased clients with a heavy Scottish burr? Ann Hornaday, chicagotribune.com, "'The Dead Don't Die' review: Jim Jarmusch's zombie tale lumbers along," 13 June 2019 Tilda Swinton’s samurai-sword-wielding undertaker Zelda Winston is also funny. Maren Longbella, Twin Cities, "‘The Dead Don’t Die’ shuffles and bumps along just like its zombies," 13 June 2019

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.

See More

First Known Use of undertaker

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about undertaker

Listen to Our Podcast about undertaker

Statistics for undertaker

Last Updated

14 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for undertaker

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for undertaker

undertaker

noun

English Language Learners Definition of undertaker

: a person whose job is to arrange and manage funerals

undertaker

noun
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

undertaker

noun
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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Comments on undertaker

What made you want to look up undertaker? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

a bell tower

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Where in the World? A Quiz

  • peter bruegel tower of babel painting
  • What language does pajama come from?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Bee Cubed

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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