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 Like other states and territories, Victoria had ordered all citizens and permanent residents returning from overseas to undertake 14 days of quarantine at hotels leased by the government. Jason Scott, Bloomberg.com, "The Mistakes That Pushed an Australian City Back Into Lockdown," 11 July 2020 When protesters undertake acts that risk jail time, like the Catholic pacifists who broke into nuclear-weapons facilities to smear them with blood, or even death, like holding marches when a government or its paramilitaries will shoot and kill? Zeynep Tufekci, The Atlantic, "Do Protests Even Work?," 24 June 2020 Broadening small businesses' access to financial products, such as loans, will allow these firms to undertake productive investments in information and communications technology. CNN, "Low internet access is driving inequality," 5 July 2020 Over four decades, Simmons would undertake numerous volunteer missions to treat pets in the Bahamas. Eliot Kleinberg, USA TODAY, "'It’s just really squirrely up here': Veterinarian Ken Simmons said before his plane vanished," 4 July 2020 Employers first have to determine there are no American candidates, and then undertake a lengthy sponsorship process that costs as much as $15,000, making the program highly competitive. Washington Post, "First coronavirus then Trump order split Indian families," 3 July 2020 Meanwhile, the incentives for lawyers to undertake general practice in smaller towns have fallen as law school costs have soared. Kathryn Joyce, The New Republic, "No Money, No Lawyer, No Justice," 22 June 2020 Crews would remove the lanes 120 days after the city lifts its emergency order, unless officials undertake a public process to make a lane permanent. Rachel Swan, SFChronicle.com, "Muni’s solution for a possible Carmageddon: Emergency transit-only lanes," 27 June 2020 Sufficient droids—one to pilot the ship and one to undertake the mission—check. Dan Thurot, Ars Technica, "Black Angel review: Run your own tabletop “generation ship”," 20 June 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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Statistics for undertake

Last Updated

28 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Undertake.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/undertake. Accessed 6 Aug. 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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