de·​serve | \ di-ˈzərv How to pronounce deserve (audio) \
deserved; deserving

Definition of deserve

transitive verb

: to be worthy of : merit deserves another chance

intransitive verb

: to be worthy, fit, or suitable for some reward or requital … have become recognized as they deserve.— T. S. Eliot a worse punishment than he deserved

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Other Words from deserve

deserver noun

Synonyms for deserve


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Examples of deserve in a Sentence

the team really deserved that victory after the way they played
Recent Examples on the Web The donation professionals who work with these families to make the most of donors’ gifts are integral and dedicated to the transplant process, and do not deserve to be treated as representatives of uncaring monopolies by our government. David C. Mulligan, STAT, "CMS’s new rules on organ donation and transplantation ‘will bring chaos’," 23 Nov. 2020 That is not to say current drivers blessed with substantial financial backing throughout their lives do not deserve their seats. Calum Trenaman, CNN, "Will we ever see another Formula One champion like Lewis Hamilton?," 17 Nov. 2020 Djamila Ribeiro, a political philosopher, said Mr. Bolsonaro did not deserve credit for the popular assistance program, which led to a significant reduction in poverty. New York Times, "As Brazil’s Covid Crisis Eases, Bolsonaro Sees Rising Popularity," 16 Nov. 2020 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration, as well as Congress, also deserve a significant amount of blame, survey respondents said. Sarah E. Gollust, The Conversation, "Poor US pandemic response will reverberate in health care politics for years, health scholars warn," 3 Nov. 2020 The nearly 73 million Americans and the majority of the Alaska electorate who voted for Trump deserve to see that the election was fairly conducted, Sullivan said during a call with reporters. Alex Demarban, Anchorage Daily News, "Alaska Sen. Sullivan says Trump’s legal challenges contesting election results should be allowed to play out," 3 Nov. 2020 The department said the officers deserve protection just like any other crime victims. Andrew Wolfson, The Courier-Journal, "Could Marsy's Law in Kentucky be used to keep secret the names of police in shootings?," 29 Oct. 2020 Montgomery said residents of the area deserve a safe community. Sara Pagones,, "Year-long probe into Covington gang violence nets 18 arrests, DA Warren Montgomery says," 19 Oct. 2020 The American people deserve to know before the election. Star Tribune, "Readers Write: Minneapolis 2040 plan challenge, vice presidential debate, bike lanes," 9 Oct. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'deserve.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of deserve

13th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for deserve

Middle English, from Anglo-French deservir, from Latin deservire to devote oneself to, from de- + servire to serve

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Time Traveler for deserve

Time Traveler

The first known use of deserve was in the 13th century

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Statistics for deserve

Last Updated

30 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Deserve.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2020.

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More Definitions for deserve


How to pronounce deserve (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of deserve

used to say that someone or something should or should not have or be given something often followed by to + verb


de·​serve | \ di-ˈzərv How to pronounce deserve (audio) \
deserved; deserving

Kids Definition of deserve

: to have earned because of some act or quality

Choose the Right Synonym for deserve

deserve, merit, and earn mean to be worthy of something. deserve is used when a person should rightly receive something good or bad because of his or her actions or character. A hard worker deserves to be rewarded. merit is used when someone or something is especially worthy of reward, punishment, or consideration. These students merit special praise. earn is used when a person has spent time and effort and gets what he or she deserves. You've earned a long vacation.

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