serve

verb
\ ˈsərv How to pronounce serve (audio) \
served; serving

Definition of serve

 (Entry 1 of 2)

intransitive verb

1a : to be a servant
b : to do military or naval service
2 : to assist a celebrant as server at mass
3a : to be of use in a day when few people could write, seals served as signatures— Elizabeth W. King
b : to be favorable, opportune, or convenient
c : to be worthy of reliance or trust if memory serves
d : to hold an office : discharge a duty or function serve on a jury
4 : to prove adequate or satisfactory : suffice it will serve for this task
5 : to help persons to food: such as
a : to wait at table
b : to set out portions of food or drink
6 : to wait on customers
7 : to put the ball or shuttlecock in play in various games (such as tennis, volleyball, or badminton)

transitive verb

1a : to be a servant to : attend
b : to give the service and respect due to (a superior)
c : to comply with the commands or demands of : gratify
d : to give military or naval service to
e : to perform the duties of (an office or post)
2 : to act as server at (mass)
3 archaic : to pay a lover's or suitor's court to (a lady) that gentle lady, whom I love and serve— Edmund Spenser
4a : to work through (a term of service)
b : to put in (a term of imprisonment)
5a : to wait on at table
b : to bring (food) to a diner
c : present, provide usually used with up the novel served up many laughs
6a : to furnish or supply with something needed or desired
b : to wait on (a customer) in a store
c : to furnish professional service to
7a : to answer the needs of
b : to be enough for : suffice
c : to contribute or conduce to : promote
8 : to treat or act toward in a specified way he served me ill
9a : to bring to notice, deliver, or execute as required by law
b : to make legal service upon (a person named in a process)
10 of a male animal : to copulate with
11 : to wind yarn or wire tightly around (a rope or stay) for protection
12 : to provide services that benefit or help
13 : to put (the ball or shuttlecock) in play (as in tennis, volleyball, or badminton)
serve one right
: to be deserved

serve

noun

Definition of serve (Entry 2 of 2)

: the act or action of putting the ball or shuttlecock in play in various games (such as volleyball, badminton, or tennis) also : a turn to serve it's your serve

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Synonyms for serve

Synonyms: Verb

slave (for), work (for)

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Examples of serve in a Sentence

Verb

Soup was served as the first course. The waiter served our meals quickly. The restaurant serves excellent Italian food. The waiter who served us was very nice. Feel free to serve yourself at the salad bar. You carve the turkey, and I'll serve. The roast should serve six. I'm afraid all of our salespeople are serving other customers right now. What can we do to serve our customers better?

Noun

She started the game with a powerful serve.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The big win for Britany was the wallpaper, which checked off Sunny's box for white walls, while adding a depth that served as the perfect backdrop to the thoughtful assortment of accessories. Lucia Tonelli, ELLE Decor, "Best Room Wins Episode Two Steps Up to the Challenge of Contemporary," 9 May 2019 Well, what better way to process times of chaos and instability than through extreme fashion that serves as a fun form of escapism? Lauren Alexis Fisher, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Met’s “Camp” Costume Exhibit Is All About the Art of Being Extra," 6 May 2019 Share prices for most truckload and brokerage companies that serve the market declined Monday and Tuesday. Jennifer Smith, WSJ, "Amazon’s Freight Push Rattles Logistics Sector," 30 Apr. 2019 But giving our energy and investing emotions in others is a lot of work, and often times, manipulations can lure us into situations that do not serve our highest purpose. Teen Vogue, "This Week's Horoscopes: April 28 to May 4," 29 Apr. 2019 Both chronicle her now-iconic performance headlining 2018’s Coachella music festival, an incredible show that served as a tribute to the rich and storied history of historically black colleges and universities. Allison Mcgevna, Glamour, "It’s Beyond Refreshing That Even Beyoncé Experiences Self-Doubt as a Mother," 17 Apr. 2019 According to the 2016 longform BuzzFeed article that has served as source material for multiple adaptations, Aleah Woodmansee was one of the few people, if not the only person, to know about Gypsy's internet boyfriend. Alexis Jones, Marie Claire, "Is Lacey From 'The Act' a Real Person? Gypsy Rose Blanchard's Friend Does Exist," 21 Mar. 2019 The panel didn't elaborate, but the tracking would likely take place through Magic Band wristbands that also serve as your park ticket. Megan Friedman And Marisa Lascala, Good Housekeeping, "Disney Just Released New Details for Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge at Both Disney World and Disneyland," 8 Mar. 2019 The youngest Jenner started off New Year's Eve in a skin-tight mini dress that served major boob action and looked stunning with her new teal hair. Kelsey Stiegman, Seventeen, "Kylie Jenner’s New Year’s Eve Outfit Flaunted Major Boob," 2 Jan. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

But stories about royal baby leave serve to highlight the fact that the life of a working royal is unique. Victoria Murphy, Town & Country, "Meghan Markle's Maternity Leave Is “Likely to be Longer” Than Three Months," 26 Apr. 2019 Pay close attention, especially when shopping at a serve-yourself location or online. Roy Berendsohn, Popular Mechanics, "The 4 Biggest Painting Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them)," 16 Jan. 2019 Trendy in its attempt, the bowl loads banana chips, blueberries, strawberry shavings, and granola atop a bowl of sweet acai soft serve. Alex Aronson, Redbook, "The 14 Best Costco Food Court Menu Items, Ranked," 4 Apr. 2019 The X factor: Osaka’s weakest point is probably her second serve. Look for Kvitová to jump on it with a vengeance. Corey Seymour, Vogue, "Set Your Alarms (or Your DVRs): Your Cheat Sheet to the Australian Open Final," 25 Jan. 2019 Williams held her serve for 5-4, but Osaka won the match in the next game for a final score of 6-2, 6-4. Tom Perrotta, WSJ, "Naomi Osaka Defeats Serena Williams for U.S. Open Title," 8 Sep. 2018 Newsletter Sign-up For Williams, the transformation from smooth victory to unprecedented defeat began when she was called for a foot fault on the first serve of her first match point. Tom Perrotta, WSJ, "Serena Williams Stumbles in Stunning Loss at the Australian Open," 23 Jan. 2019 After going a couple of weeks without hitting a serve, Williams has regained her ability with that stroke nicely at Wimbledon. Howard Fendrich, BostonGlobe.com, "Serena Williams storms back to reach Wimbledon semifinals," 10 July 2018 The 23-time grand slam champ faced a mere one break point and tallied 85% of her first-serve points. Ravi Ubha, CNN, "Serena Williams to face Maria Sharapova at French Open," 2 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'serve.' 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 serve

Verb

13th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1a

Noun

1688, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for serve

Verb

Middle English, from Anglo-French servir, from Latin servire to be a slave, serve, from servus slave, servant

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Statistics for serve

Last Updated

14 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for serve

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

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More Definitions for serve

serve

verb

English Language Learners Definition of serve

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to give (food or drink) to someone at a meal, in a restaurant, etc.
: to give food or drink to (someone)
: to be enough food for (a particular number of people)

serve

noun

English Language Learners Definition of serve (Entry 2 of 2)

sports : the act or action of throwing a ball into the air and hitting it over a net to start play in tennis, volleyball, etc.

serve

verb
\ ˈsərv How to pronounce serve (audio) \
served; serving

Kids Definition of serve

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to help people to food or drink or set out helpings of food or drink
2 : to be of use : answer some purpose The lawn serves as our sports facility.— Lemony Snicket, The Austere Academy
3 : to be a servant
4 : to give the service and respect due serve God
5 : to be in prison for or during (a period of time)
6 : to provide helpful services Our friendly staff will serve you.
7 : to be enough for The pie will serve eight people.
8 : to hold an office : perform a duty I served as club treasurer.
9 : to perform a term of service He served in the marines.
10 : to furnish with something needed or desired There is no grocery store to serve the area.
11 : to put the ball or shuttlecock in play (as in tennis, volleyball, or badminton)
serve someone right
: to be deserved You didn't study, so if you fail the test it will serve you right.

serve

noun

Kids Definition of serve (Entry 2 of 2)

: an act of putting the ball or shuttlecock in play (as in tennis, volleyball, or badminton)
served; serving

Legal Definition of serve

1 : to deliver, publish, or execute (notice or process) as required by law no notice of any such request was ever served on the husbandNational Law Journal
2 : to make legal service upon (the person named in a process) : inform or notify by legal service unless the city had been served with prior notice of a defect— Gene Mustain
3 : to put in (a term of imprisonment) has served five years of her sentence

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More from Merriam-Webster on serve

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with serve

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for serve

Spanish Central: Translation of serve

Nglish: Translation of serve for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of serve for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about serve

Comments on serve

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