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 No, not one of the Puget Sound orcas, but still an orca that didn’t deserve that kind of treatment. Bill Monroe, oregonlive, 30 July 2022 But days that inevitably fall a degree short, 89-degree days, such as Friday, may also deserve a look. Martin Weil, Washington Post, 30 July 2022 Bobby DiCello, an attorney for Walker’s family, has said Walker did not deserve to die. Mark Gillispie, Anchorage Daily News, 15 July 2022 Bobby DiCello, an attorney for Walker's family, said that Walker, a Door Dash driver with no criminal record, did not deserve to be killed. CBS News, 13 July 2022 Some users threatened to leave Gmail if political emails were diverted to the primary inbox, saying politicians didn't deserve special treatment by getting exemption from the spam folder. Ashley Belanger, Ars Technica, 12 July 2022 Gorr the God Butcher believed gods destroyed universes and didn’t deserve their impressive power (viewers will meet Gorr in the new film, played by Christian Bale). Scottie Andrew, CNN, 7 July 2022 Here is a look at five Wildcats who deserve consideration from voters this week: Kentucky footballWould 9-game SEC schedule doom Governor's Cup? Jon Hale, The Courier-Journal, 18 July 2022 And as headlines of shootings pile up one by one, my heart breaks for the victims and families who deserve so much more than this same old pattern of shooting, coverage, move onto the next, ad infinitum. Christine Fernando, USA TODAY, 14 July 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

3 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Deserve.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Aug. 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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