Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To take upon oneself; decide or agree to do: undertake a task.
  • transitive v. To pledge or commit oneself: undertake to care for an elderly relative.
  • transitive v. To set about; begin.
  • transitive v. Obsolete To accept combat with.
  • intransitive v. Archaic To make oneself responsible. Used with for.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To take upon oneself; to start, to embark on (a specific task etc.).
  • v. To commit oneself (to an obligation, activity etc.).
  • v. to overtake on the wrong side.
  • v. To pledge; to assert, assure; to dare say.
  • v. To take by trickery; to trap, to seize upon.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • transitive v. To take upon one's self; to engage in; to enter upon; to take in hand; to begin to perform; to set about; to attempt.
  • transitive v. Specifically, to take upon one's self solemnly or expressly; to lay one's self under obligation, or to enter into stipulations, to perform or to execute; to covenant; to contract.
  • transitive v. Hence, to guarantee; to promise; to affirm.
  • transitive v. To assume, as a character.
  • transitive v. To engage with; to attack.
  • transitive v. To have knowledge of; to hear.
  • transitive v. To take or have the charge of.
  • intransitive v. To take upon one's self, or assume, any business, duty, or province.
  • intransitive v. To venture; to hazard.
  • intransitive v. To give a promise or guarantee; to be surety.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To take on one's self; often, to take formally or expressly on one's self; lay one's self under obligations or enter into stipulations to perform or execute; pledge one's self to.
  • To engage in; enter upon; take in hand; begin to perform; set about; attempt; essay.
  • To warrant; answer for; guarantee; affirm: especially with a following clause.
  • To take in; hear; understand; have knowledge of. To assume, as a character.
  • To engage with; have to do with; attack.
  • To have the charge of.
  • Synonyms and Essay, Endeavor, etc. See attempt.
  • To take up or assume any business, responsibility, or venture.
  • To promise; be bound; warrant; answer for something; guarantee.
  • Specifically To manage funerals, and arrange all the details for burying the dead.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. accept as a challenge
  • v. enter upon an activity or enterprise
  • v. accept as a charge
  • v. enter into a contractual arrangement
  • v. promise to do or accomplish

Etymologies

From Middle English undertaken, equivalent to under- +‎ take (after undernim). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Because the journey I am asking readers to undertake is emotional and troubling, I knew I wanted a strong narrative pull, a mystery that would add urgency to their reading.

    Mohsin Hamid - An interview with author

  • With no goal in sight any effort we undertake is worthless.

    Bash: GOP weighs in quickly

  • One visit I have planned and can now undertake is to the ruins of Monte Alban - The White Mountain - in Oaxaca State still further to the South.

    A glass garden

  • Nice pictures from space -- I hope that the science they undertake is as good as their imagery -- go slow, guys.

    View from the Northern Border

  • Much of what we undertake is what we call "pre-competitive research."

    The Competitive Edge: Canada's R&D Strategies for the Global Market

  • One project that business could undertake is the perpetual endowment of, say, 100 chairs in Canadian universities devoted to studies which promote and foster better understanding between Canadians, or between Canadians and the peoples of other countries.

    Centennial Business Is Your Business

  • They have not in any way nullified the effectiveness or the significance of the decisions taken at the London Conference, and subsequently ratified in Paris only this year, but I will say this, that the finest investment in Paris that any nation can undertake is the investment represented by tourists, the free movement of peoples from and to the shores of that nation.

    The Investment of Friendship

  • With never a fixed habitation, no sense of the value of money, giving it away to those in need as readily as if it had no value, often enduring privation himself in consequence; with a mode of life so simple that the entire menage was frequently transported elsewhere on slight provocation, this ascetic was now to encounter housekeeping problems, make money, save it (most difficult of all), employ servants, in short undertake in middle-age and in impaired health, duties the nature of which he could not even form an estimate.

    Beethoven A Character Study

  • Still, after all these years of gender debate, the greatest adventure that women regularly undertake is to deflect a man’s attention from world saving, tiger-wrestling, bad-guy-killing and money making.

    Adventures for Girls « Tales from the Reading Room

  • So the challenge we have to undertake is to come up with new cover designs for these fantastic books in hopes of garnering for them the readership they deserve.

    Spice and Wolf Unveiled!

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