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undertake

[uhn-der-teyk]
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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.
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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.
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Origin of undertake

1150–1200; Middle English undertaken; see under-, take
Related formspre·un·der·take, verb (used with object), pre·un·der·took, pre·un·der·tak·en, pre·un·der·tak·ing.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for undertake

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Who, again, could undertake the permanent care of his mother?

    Viviette

    William J. Locke

  • No one must undertake a journey in the Lozre with a scantily-furnished purse.

    The Roof of France

    Matilda Betham-Edwards

  • On no other condition, added Nicias, would he undertake the command.

  • I never give up what I once commence, and I never fail in what I undertake!

    Night and Morning, Complete

    Edward Bulwer-Lytton

  • Well, I undertake to stand 'em off for a bit; you take the bag and run for it.

    The Black Bag

    Louis Joseph Vance


British Dictionary definitions for undertake

undertake

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
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Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for undertake

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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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper