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 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 No parent wants their child to undertake such a journey. Camilo Montoya-galvez, CBS News, "The U.S. gave her refuge from gangs. But her 13-year-old daughter was expelled under Trump's new border policy," 10 June 2020 Boehm and attorneys for both sides agreed to hold periodic telephone status conversations to discuss the parties readiness to undertake mediation. Alexandria Burris, The Indianapolis Star, "Developer, city of Indianapolis still in mediation over former GM stamping plant site," 19 June 2020 Taylor Levy, an immigration attorney in El Paso, said the expulsion policy has prompted many migrants in northern Mexico to undertake more perilous border crossings. Camilo Montoya-galvez, CBS News, "U.S. ramps up mass expulsions of migrants as border crossings rise," 13 June 2020 Darwin was desperate to undertake a similar scientific odyssey. National Geographic, "Darwin's first—and only—trip around the world began a scientific revolution," 11 June 2020 For now, Chinese officials show little inclination to undertake such a voyage. The Economist, "The 24-body problem The yuan has been one of the world’s most stable major currencies," 11 June 2020 The Jama Masjid authorities have asked visitors to undertake the wuzu, a practice of washing one’s hands, feet, and face before prayers, at home instead of the mosque premises. Manavi Kapur, Quartz India, "India’s religious places are tweaking age-old traditions for safety as the pandemic rages on," 10 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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Last Updated

4 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Undertake.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/undertake. Accessed 13 Jul. 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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