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

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Synonyms & Antonyms for undertake



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Examples of undertake in a Sentence

He's undertaking a thorough search. The researchers undertook a series of studies.
Recent Examples on the Web International cultures represented amidst happy-faced dolls, eye-popping colors, and literal pounds of glitter are made all the better come Christmastime, when the boat journey through the nations undertakes an explosion of holiday glee. Carlye Wisel, Travel + Leisure, "All of the Rides at Disneyland, Ranked From Worst to Best," 28 Apr. 2020 In 2012 and 2013 Saudi authorities encouraged the ill and the elderly not to undertake the pilgrimage amid concerns over Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS. Ken Chitwood, Smithsonian Magazine, "This Pandemic Isn’t the First Time the Hajj Has Been Disrupted for Muslims," 23 Apr. 2020 And given that governors across the South—where 58% of all Black Americans live—failed to undertake prophylactic measures in a timely fashion, the need for action by Black legislators and others couldn’t be more urgent. Asha Bandele, Essence, "Black People Make Up Forty Percent Of COVID-19 Deaths In Michigan," 2 Apr. 2020 Yet for all my concerns about red tape, perhaps there is something to be said for the government’s tendency to unilaterally undertake such sweeping measures in the name of staunching the coronavirus. Shraddha Chakradhar, STAT, "Covid-19 hasn’t yet hit India in a widespread way. But I saw more warnings there than I did in the U.S.," 27 Mar. 2020 His one bit of advice for anyone looking to undertake a similar project of their own? Hadley Keller, House Beautiful, "A Crazy Rental Kitchen Makeover Used Only Paint, Tape, and a Whole Lot of Creativity," 2 Dec. 2019 The company's Opt Outside web page provides links to cleanup efforts across the country and offers guidance on how people can undertake their own cleanup campaigns throughout the year. Weldon B. Johnson, azcentral, "Skip the shopping on Black Friday, REI says. Opt Outside instead. Here's how you can help," 27 Nov. 2019 The failure to fix the elevators is a problem for the carrier, which is scheduled to undertake its first cruise in 2021. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "USS Ford Will Set Sail With Only 2 Out of 11 Weapon Elevators," 12 Oct. 2019 Geneva Peeps is one of the many experiments in agrivoltaics, or co-locating solar panels and food production, being undertaken around the United States. Lynn Freehill-maye, The Christian Science Monitor, "A new vision for farming: Chickens, sheep, and ... solar panels," 23 Apr. 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.

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First Known Use of undertake

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

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Time Traveler for undertake

Time Traveler

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

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Last Updated

23 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Undertake.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/undertake. Accessed 2 Jun. 2020.

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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.

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