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


accept, assume, bear, shoulder, take over


disavow, disclaim, disown, repudiate

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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

This is the task undertaken by a U.N. specialized agency, the World Health Organization (WHO). Ved Nanda, The Denver Post, "Nanda: WHO, Rotary Clubs have made the world a healthier place," 27 June 2019 Students compulsorily undertook to learn humanities subjects in six out of the eight semesters of their BS programme. Bitasta Das, Quartz India, "How I engage students of India’s premier science school in folk arts," 27 June 2019 Since 2006, the partnership has undertaken the annual colony-loss survey. Chase Purdy, Quartz, "New data show the US honeybee population is still dying in record numbers," 20 June 2019 Aside from joining the talent competition’s panel of celebrity judges in its fourteenth season, the actress has undertaken several dynamic new roles. Jennifer Ford, Essence, "Gabrielle Union Just Gave Us A Look at Summer’s Coolest Haircut," 12 June 2019 However, more proof came from a trial undertaken by the Marion County Master Gardeners, who had similar success. oregonlive.com, "Trial gardens show vegetables can be grown without irrigation," 11 June 2019 The third principle was to assess the situation, using advance personnel like Richards, to see if there is a military operation that can prudently be undertaken. Janine Di Giovanni, The New York Review of Books, "Sierra Leone, 2000: A Case History in Successful Interventionism," 7 June 2019 If necessary, a lead abatement program will be undertaken before the field is reopened. Frank Kummer, https://www.inquirer.com, "Athletic field at popular Point Breeze playground closed after lead found in soil," 4 June 2019 Two-thirds of the American importers who responded to a recent survey undertaken by Freightos said that over a quarter of their deliveries from abroad arrive late. The Economist, "The global logistics business is going to be transformed by digitisation," 26 Apr. 2018

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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Statistics for undertake

Last Updated

5 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for undertake

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

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More Definitions for undertake



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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Comments on undertake

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


food or victuals

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