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 Here's a list of best picture winners that didn't deserve it, along with the nominee that should have taken home the trophy instead. Charles Trepany, USA TODAY, "Oscars 2021: Dust off your Academy Award-winning trivia with these 500+ photos, factoids," 23 Apr. 2021 The Ricari experience is indulgent, to be sure, but don’t our bodies deserve that? Monica Mendal, Forbes, "How Anna Zahn Of Ricari Studios Is Revolutionizing The Self-Care Industry," 21 Apr. 2021 Their argument: The IRS proved itself a bad steward of federal money and didn’t deserve any more. Richard Rubin, WSJ, "Biden’s Big Agenda Relies on a Shrunken, Strained Agency: The IRS," 20 Apr. 2021 Blackwell said the group didn't deserve to be characterized as unruly, because they were distraught over watching a defenseless man die in front of them. Erin Donaghue, CBS News, "Jury begins deliberations after closing arguments in Derek Chauvin trial," 20 Apr. 2021 Consider that a child out at 2:30 a.m. does not deserve a death sentence. Raul A. Reyes, CNN, "What we know so far about Adam Toledo's death is unacceptable," 19 Apr. 2021 And, ultimately, it must be rejected by the people — who did not vote for a regime consumed with freeing itself from any meaningful constitutional restraint, and do not deserve to live under one. The Editors, National Review, "Democrats’ Court-Packing Two-Step," 16 Apr. 2021 But before he was allowed to go free, this brave, patriotic Black man who had vowed to die for his country was reduced to crying and cursing while handcuffed and on his knees in front of two men who did not deserve his respect. Dahleen Glanton, Star Tribune, "In traffic stop of a Black Army officer in Virginia, echoes of George Floyd," 13 Apr. 2021 Tampa Bay traded back into the second round ... for a kicker ... who would last only one season ... and probably didn't deserve to stick that long. Nate Davis, USA Today, "101 biggest NFL draft busts in history: Which gaffes stand out the most?," 12 Apr. 2021

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

29 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Deserve.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for deserve



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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Comments on deserve

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