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

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Synonyms for undertaker


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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 The flowers had been laid on his casket, and the undertaker had tried to dismiss us, but the people would not move. Laurel Mathewson Writer, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Commentary: Beauty out of brokenness: the Easter promise of renewal," 4 Apr. 2021 Rick Jaynes, an undertaker for 34 years, and an associate jumped in a large white van and drove through the abnormally empty streets of this small southwestern Dallas suburb. Dallas News, "‘The deaths don’t stop’: How North Texas funeral homes adapted during COVID," 19 Mar. 2021 But his career looked like it was headed to the undertaker just one year later. Phil Miller, Star Tribune, "Minnesota Twins reliever Hansel Robles COVID victim without getting sick," 26 Feb. 2021 There are nurse bees, and undertaker bees that carry out the dead bees like coffin-bearers. New York Times, "Rupert Grint Sees a Stage Mother in His Daughter’s Future," 12 Jan. 2021 On Zoom their voices refuse to ring as one, so one singer takes the lead while the undertaker, who is Catholic, wraps the body in simple white shrouds. Daniel Burke, CNN, "How Jews and Muslims are burying their coronavirus dead," 13 Nov. 2020 The son of a Memphis undertaker, Smith was a sometime barber who loved to tinker. Erika Larsen, National Geographic, "The era of greyhound racing in the U.S. is coming to an end," 1 Oct. 2020 Back on Facebook, where my people are far too acquainted with the undertaker. Marcus Wicker, The Atlantic, "Blursday Blues," 18 Oct. 2020 Help is wanted at Raven’s End Mortuary, and a misguided young girl (Caitlin Fisher) takes refuge in this decrepit old place working for Montgomery Dark (Clancy Brown), an eccentric undertaker. Katey Clifford, al, "How to watch ‘The Mortuary Collection’ on Shudder," 15 Oct. 2020

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

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Last Updated

12 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Undertaker.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/undertaker. Accessed 6 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for undertaker



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

More from Merriam-Webster on undertaker

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for undertaker

Nglish: Translation of undertaker for Spanish Speakers

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