1. phrasal verb If you take on a job or responsibility, especially a difficult one, you accept it. [V P n] ⇒ No other organisation was able or willing to take on the job. [V P n (not pron)] ⇒ Don't take on more responsibilities than you can handle. [Also V n P] 2. phrasal verb [no passive]
If something takes on a new appearance or quality, it develops that appearance or quality. [V P n] ⇒ Believing he had only a year to live, his writing took on a feverish intensity. [Also V n P]
3. phrasal verb If a vehicle such as a bus or ship takes on passengers, goods, or fuel, it stops in order to allow them to get on or to be loaded on. [V P n] ⇒ This is a brief stop to take on passengers and water. [Also V n P] 4. phrasal verb
If you take someone on, you employ them to do a job. [V n P] ⇒ He's spoken to a publishing firm. They're going to take him on. [V P n] ⇒ The party has been taking on staff, including temporary organisers.
5. phrasal verb [no passive] If you take someone on, you fight them or compete against them, especially when they are bigger or more powerful than you are. [V P n] ⇒ Democrats were reluctant to take on a president whose popularity ratings were historically high. [V n P] ⇒ I knew I couldn't take him on. 6. phrasal verb [no passive] → take If you take something on or upon yourself, you decide to do it without asking anyone for permission or approval. [V n P pron-refl] ⇒ Knox had taken it on himself to choose the wine. [V P pron-refl] ⇒ He took upon himself the responsibility for protecting her. [V n P pron-refl] ⇒ The President absolved his officers and took the blame upon himself.
COBUILD Advanced English Dictionary. Copyright © Harper Collins Publishers