un·​der·​tak·​ing | \ˈən-dər-ˌtā-kiŋ, ˌən-dər-ˈtā-; sense 1b is ˈən-dər-ˌtā-only\

Definition of undertaking 

1a : the act of one who undertakes or engages in a project or business

b : the business of an undertaker

2 : something undertaken : enterprise

Examples of undertaking in a Sentence

The restoration of the old theater is a huge undertaking. He advised us against such a risky undertaking.

Recent Examples on the Web

The rally was the latest undertaking by Patriot Prayer founder Joey Gibson of Vancouver, Washington, who is running for U.S. Senate as a Republican in Tuesday’s primary. Seattle Times Staff, The Seattle Times, "Heavy police presence as Patriot Prayer group rallies in Portland, Oregon," 5 Aug. 2018 Moving him from his bed or wheelchair is its own undertaking, and leaving the house is a daunting task. Laurie Mcginley, Washington Post, "Devastated by ALS, trying to save others," 13 June 2018 One of his next undertakings is a collaboration with Dior on a line of accessories, in which his cartoon bees with crosses for eyes will decorate items such as bags, wallets and key chains. Alexandra Wolfe, WSJ, "Contemporary Art Star Brian Donnelly Mixes High and Low," 12 Oct. 2018 The project, which provides water to four drought-prone states, stands as one of the most ambitious undertakings of da Silva's time in office. Mauricio Savarese, Fox News, "With Brazil's da Silva in jail, his region's vote in doubt," 29 May 2018 Bring your own projects, talk shop with writer and curator Nicole H. Scalessa, and maybe even pick up some ideas for your next fiber-arts undertaking. Philly.com, "Kendrick Lamar, Odunde Festival, and other great happenings, June 8-15," 7 June 2018 That’s what often happens when Oyama and her assistants are working on a project, including their current undertaking. Cody Mccrary, San Antonio Express-News, "UTSA laboratory helping local athletes progress, prevent injury," 15 May 2018 The undertaking went horribly awry, almost from its inception, with early reports of children being held in chains or hogties. Carol Marbin Miller, miamiherald, "A victim of vile abuse at Florida reform school, he spent his life fighting for justice," 10 July 2018 The combination of single-market membership for goods with a customs union will preserve frictionless trade with the EU and satisfy Mrs May’s undertaking to avert a hard border in Ireland. The Economist, "Britain’s new Brexit plan is savaged—by its own Brexit secretary," 9 July 2018

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

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

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Last Updated

8 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for undertaking

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

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English Language Learners Definition of undertaking

: an important or difficult task or project

: the business of an undertaker

: a promise or agreement to do or not do something


un·​der·​tak·​ing | \ˈən-dər-ˌtā-kiŋ \

Kids Definition of undertaking

: an important or difficult task or project Creating a mural is a big undertaking.



Legal Definition of undertaking 

1 : a promise or pledge especially required by law

2 : something (as cash or a written promise) deposited or given as security especially in a court

Note: Undertakings are often required of one party during property actions (as for attachment) in order to compensate the other party should the court's action (as in attaching the property) be found unjustified later.

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More from Merriam-Webster on undertaking

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with undertaking

Spanish Central: Translation of undertaking

Nglish: Translation of undertaking for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of undertaking for Arabic Speakers

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a soft lustrous wool fabric with mohair

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