1. the act of a person who undertakes any task or responsibility.
  2. a task, enterprise, etc., undertaken.
  3. a promise; pledge; guarantee.
  4. the business of an undertaker or funeral director.

verb (used with object), un·der·took, un·der·tak·en, un·der·tak·ing.

  1. to take upon oneself, as a task, performance, etc.; attempt: She undertook the job of answering all the mail.
  2. to promise, agree, or obligate oneself (followed by an infinitive): The married couple undertook to love, honor, and cherish each other.
  3. to warrant or guarantee (followed by a clause): The sponsors undertake that their candidate meets all the requirements.
  4. to take in charge; assume the duty of attending to: The lawyer undertook a new case.

verb (used without object), un·der·took, un·der·tak·en, un·der·tak·ing.

  1. Archaic. to engage oneself by promise; give a guarantee, or become surety.


  1. something undertaken; task, venture, or enterprise
  2. an agreement to do something
  3. the business of an undertaker
  4. informal the practice of overtaking on an inner lane a vehicle which is travelling in an outer lane

verb -takes, -taking, -took or -taken

  1. (tr) to contract to or commit oneself to (something) or (to do something)to undertake a job; to undertake to deliver the goods
  2. (tr) to attempt to; agree to start
  3. (tr) to take (someone) in charge
  4. (intr foll by for) archaic to make oneself responsible (for)
  5. (tr) to promise

n.“enterprise,” early 15c., verbal noun from undertake (v.). v.c.1200, “to entrap,” in the same sense as Old English underniman (cf. Dutch ondernemen, German unternehmen), of which it is a partial loan-translation, from under + take. Cf. also French entreprendre “to undertake,” from entre “between, among” + prendre “to take.” The under in this word may be the same one that also may form the first element of understand. Meaning “to accept” is attested from mid-13c.; that of “to take upon oneself, to accept the duty of” is from c.1300.

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