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

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 Believing that health and happiness go hand-in-hand, Happi knows that all of life's moments deserve to be celebrated. Amber Love Bond, Forbes, 6 May 2022 Some memories deserve an extra special touch when preserving. Elizabeth Berry, Woman's Day, 6 May 2022 Simon deserve a seat at the table just like any stadium rocker? Al Shipley, SPIN, 4 May 2022 Only time will tell if the bet on Willis and his physical tools will pay off, but the Titans deserve credit for recognizing their weaknesses and making a big change. Baltimore Sun, 3 May 2022 All moms are superheroes, and deserve to hear the uplifting message in this Jamie O’Neal song. Samantha Lawyer, Country Living, 2 May 2022 Ah, that would be Mr. ORNG, who among so many longtime Suns fans deserve the success the franchise has enjoyed these past two years. Mark Faller, The Arizona Republic, 1 May 2022 Like those she's heard making unfair judgments about whether certain immigrants deserve to be in America. Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN, 30 Apr. 2022 Still, it wasn’t made a federal holiday, and Cook and other supporters say Tubman’s life and legacy deserve a higher level of national recognition. NBC News, 29 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

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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Dictionary Entries Near deserve



deserve a medal

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Statistics for deserve

Last Updated

11 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Deserve.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for deserve


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.

More from Merriam-Webster on deserve

Nglish: Translation of deserve for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of deserve for Arabic Speakers


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