Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

take on - definition and synonyms


What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.



The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

phrasal verb [transitive]
Word Forms
present tense
I/you/we/theytake on
he/she/ittakes on
present participletaking on
past tensetook on
past participletaken on
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  1. 1
    to start to employ someone
    We’re not taking on any new workers at this time.
  2. 2
    take on something to develop a particular character or appearance
    Our website is taking on a new look.
    The war took on a different meaning for everyone involved.
  3. 3
    to accept some work or responsibility
    I can’t take on any more work at the moment.
  4. 4
    to fight or compete against someone
    This evening the Packers take on the Eagles.
  5. 5

    take on


    take upon

    to decide to do something without asking permission from anyone else
    take it on/upon yourself (to do something): My mother took it on herself to invite them.
See also main entry: take


a fashion trend in which people intentionally wear ordinary, inexpensive, widely-available clothing

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary


a flower or small bunch of flowers worn on the lapel of a jacket on special occasions

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog