un·​der·​tak·​ing | \ ˈən-dər-ˌtā-kiŋ How to pronounce undertaking (audio) , 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

Warren, Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders, are vowing to ban all private prisons and detention centers, which would be a considerable undertaking and one that would upend the criminal justice system. Melanie Mason, latimes.com, "A Florida detention center for migrant youths became an essential stop for Democratic candidates," 28 June 2019 Hollie Mackey, a Northern Cheyenne who is an associate professor at the University of Oklahoma, led the discussion during Tuesday’s meeting in Helena, saying such a coordinated effort is a new undertaking. USA TODAY, "Pride pickup, sphinx on move, Tony Stark’s cabin: News from around our 50 states," 13 June 2019 That’s a huge undertaking logistically, Soler said, but worth the effort. William Thornton | Wthornton@al.com, al.com, "New day for BBVA: Bank’s global brand strategy launches," 10 June 2019 Francesca Zambello’s incisive staging, co-produced with Houston Grand Opera and Lyric Opera of Chicago, was this season’s most lavish undertaking. Heidi Waleson, WSJ, "The Glimmerglass Festival and ‘A Quiet Place’ Reviews," 13 Aug. 2018 Clearly, going through any combination like that is a major undertaking. Patrick Danner, San Antonio Express-News, "Managing partner oversees 1,000 lawyers from San Antonio office," 25 June 2018 One of the reasons is the 1920 Jones Act, a post-World War I national security undertaking, requiring that vessels moving cargo between two U.S. ports be U.S. built, owned and crewed. Debra Cagan, Houston Chronicle, "Comment: In maintaining Jones Act, the winner is Putin," 19 June 2019 In addition to paying a $50 million penalty, KPMG acknowledged wrongdoing and agreed to retain an independent consultant to review and assess its ethics and integrity controls and its compliance with various undertakings. Kate Gibson, CBS News, "SEC fines KPMG $50 million for cheating, calls misconduct "astonishing"," 17 June 2019 Despite the criticisms and lukewarm film reviews, the risky undertaking has rekindled a love affair with genie pants, DJ Khaled and turquoise blue. Lorraine Ali, latimes.com, "From ‘Aladdin’ to Galaxy’s Edge, how Hollywood interprets Arab culture," 14 June 2019

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.

See More

First Known Use of undertaking

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about undertaking

Statistics for undertaking

Last Updated

7 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for undertaking

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for undertaking



English Language Learners Definition of undertaking

: an important or difficult task or project
: the business of an undertaker
British, formal : a promise or agreement to do or not do something


un·​der·​tak·​ing | \ ˈən-dər-ˌtā-kiŋ How to pronounce undertaking (audio) \

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.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Comments on undertaking

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


characterized by aphorism

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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