un·​der·​take | \ ˌən-dər-ˈtāk How to pronounce undertake (audio) \
undertook\ ˌən-​dər-​ˈtu̇k How to pronounce undertake (audio) \; undertaken\ ˌən-​dər-​ˈtā-​kən How to pronounce undertake (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 Vasarhelyi and Chin grapple with the risks rescuers had to undertake for the mission. Ari Schneider, Forbes, 16 Oct. 2021 Royal Dutch Shell PLC may have to undertake a broad overhaul of its business to comply with a court order to cut carbon emissions. Paul Page, WSJ, 28 May 2021 The team will also have to undertake frequent testing of players and staff for the virus, the details of which have not yet been finalized by MLB. The Salt Lake Tribune, 18 Apr. 2021 Proteins are able to undertake a vast array of different structures and functions, far more than other types of biomolecules (e.g., lipids or carbohydrates). Rob Toews, Forbes, 3 Oct. 2021 Ozy's editorial team did undertake ambitious reporting projects. Kerry Flynn, CNN, 30 Sep. 2021 Before traversing Central America, many Haitians undertake a treacherous journey through the Darien Gap, a roadless jungle region near Panama's border with Colombia. Camilo Montoya-galvez, CBS News, 18 Sep. 2021 Boston Children’s, a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School, will undertake a research program aiming to answer physiological questions vital to improving the health and performance of girls and women. BostonGlobe.com, 28 July 2021 Most coming from South or Central America undertake the trek to the U.S. land border. Washington Post, 14 July 2021

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

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

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Last Updated

21 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Undertake.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/undertake. Accessed 27 Oct. 2021.

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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.

More from Merriam-Webster on undertake

Nglish: Translation of undertake for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of undertake for Arabic Speakers


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