verb (used with object), un·der·took, un·der·tak·en, un·der·tak·ing.
- to take upon oneself, as a task, performance, etc.; attempt: She undertook the job of answering all the mail.
- to promise, agree, or obligate oneself (followed by an infinitive): The married couple undertook to love, honor, and cherish each other.
- to warrant or guarantee (followed by a clause): The sponsors undertake that their candidate meets all the requirements.
- 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.
- Archaic. to engage oneself by promise; give a guarantee, or become surety.
verb -takes, -taking, -took or -taken
- (tr) to contract to or commit oneself to (something) or (to do something)to undertake a job; to undertake to deliver the goods
- (tr) to attempt to; agree to start
- (tr) to take (someone) in charge
- (intr foll by for) archaic to make oneself responsible (for)
- (tr) to promise
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.