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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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.

Examples of deserve in a Sentence

the team really deserved that victory after the way they played
Recent Examples on the Web Apparently, UCF’s decisive 45-27 win over Stanford was the last evidence Herbstreit needed to suggest the Knights have arrived and deserve more respect. Iliana Limón Romero,, "Herbstreit: UCF a team ‘nation really needs to start to pay attention to’," 16 Sep. 2019 On September 14, 2015, the first detection of these ripples in space-time was made by the LIGO-Virgo collaboration, revealed months later to deserved global fanfare. Jonathan O'callaghan, Scientific American, "The Gravitational-Wave “Revolution” Is Underway," 12 Sep. 2019 Just like the skin on your face, your high-functioning hands deserve decadence and TLC, especially after typing away on your computer all day and washing so many dishes. Maya Allen, Marie Claire, "Why Byredo's Rose Hand Cream Is Worth It," 11 Sep. 2019 There isn't an Oscars category for casting directors, but whoever was in charge of assembling the cast of Bombshell deserves some type of award. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Bombshell Cast Looks Just Like Their Real-Life Counterparts," 22 Aug. 2019 Apparently, there’s no exception to be made for males who don’t deserve respect, which strikes me as ironic. Burbank Leader, "A Word, Please: New leader of Britain’s House of Commons imposes unusual grammar rules," 22 Aug. 2019 New parents deserve nothing short of sweeping and massive policy change to ensure that they are protected and supported after welcoming a child. SELF, "Actually, Maternity Leave Is Not a Vacation," 20 Aug. 2019 Because there’s so many people that are deserving to be out. Kenneth E. Hartman, Harper's magazine, "Life after Life," 16 Sep. 2019 Your new iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro or iPhone 11 Pro Max deserves a dazzling new case. CNN Money, "Protect your iPhone 11 with these stylish and rugged cases," 16 Sep. 2019

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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Statistics for deserve

Last Updated

26 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for deserve

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

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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

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More from Merriam-Webster on deserve

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for deserve

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with deserve

Spanish Central: Translation of deserve

Nglish: Translation of deserve for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of deserve for Arabic Speakers

Comments on deserve

What made you want to look up deserve? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


something of little or no value

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