Word of the Day : July 14, 2014


noun UN-der-tay-ker


1 : one that undertakes : one that takes the risk and management of business : entrepreneur

2 : one whose business is to prepare the dead for burial and to arrange and manage funerals

3 : an Englishman taking over forfeited lands in Ireland in the 16th and 17th centuries

Did You Know?

You may wonder how the word "undertaker" made the transition from "one who undertakes" to "one who makes a living in the funeral business." The latter meaning descends from the use of the word to mean "one who takes on business responsibilities." In the 18th century, a funeral-undertaker was someone who undertook, or managed, a funeral business. There were many undertakers in those days, undertaking all sorts of businesses, but as time went on "undertaker" became specifically identified with the profession of arranging burial. Today, "funeral director" is more commonly used, but "undertaker" still appears.


The undertaker offered the family several choices of coffin for the burial service.

"An undertaker has admitted selling uninsured funeral plans in order to support himself and his struggling business." - Manchester Evening News, May 28, 2014

Test Your Memory

What is the meaning of "freegan," our Word of the Day from June 13? The answer is …


More Words of the Day

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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