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

Michael Bell, Lord and seven other people were injured when Monday’s explosion leveled the two-story building that housed LEAP, a nonprofit that serves people with cognitive and intellectual disabilities. Washington Post, "Worker who herded people out before explosion is called hero," 18 Sep. 2019 Anger is an important emotion that serves to ignite people’s passion, but it should never be used to maintain it. Zainab Salbi, Fortune, "Punishing Sexual Predators Isn’t Enough. We Need to Give Them a Path to Make Things Right," 17 Sep. 2019 The explosion shattered the two-story building that housed LEAP Inc., a nonprofit that serves people with cognitive and intellectual disabilities, just a couple of months after it was finished. Fox News, "Maine firefighter killed in propane blast was injured fire chief's brother," 17 Sep. 2019 The reigning cheap eat in the neighborhood, however, is Roti King, which serves flaky Malaysian flatbread with various fillings (go for the lamb curry) from basement digs near Euston station. Vogue, "Where to Stay and Eat in London’s Renewed King’s Cross Neighborhood," 16 Sep. 2019 Now, ostensibly, comes a new stunt: A U.S.-Israel Defense pact or Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT), which conveniently serves two personal-political agendas. Gilead Sher, Time, "Netanyahu's Defense Treaty with Trump Is a Bad Idea. Just as Well It's Only a Gimmick," 16 Sep. 2019 And for whatever reason, the Jaguars seem to have abandoned the triple-option game that served them well last year. Creg Stephenson | Cstephenson@al.com, al, "5 things we learned from South Alabama’s 42-6 loss to Memphis," 16 Sep. 2019 Parma City Schools, which serves Parma, Parma Heights and Seven Hills students, scored an 84.642 Performance Index. John Benson, cleveland.com, "Parma City Schools superintendent sees positive results on Ohio School Report Card," 16 Sep. 2019 While Tartine’s second-newest location in San Francisco’s Inner Sunset is a cafe that also serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, there are no plans for full-service meals at this location. Tara Duggan, SFChronicle.com, "Tartine Bakery opens first East Bay location in Berkeley’s Graduate Hotel," 16 Sep. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Dessert includes soft-serve ice cream in fun flavor combinations (chocolate-cherry swirled into a spire with banana ice cream on my visit). Tom Sietsema, Washington Post, "In Richmond, two new enchanting reasons to drive and dine," 4 Sep. 2019 What to order: O.G. Bear pizza, burrata pizza, Cappelletti Spritz, fritto misto, kale salad, soft-serve ice cream. Soleil Ho, SFChronicle.com, "Flour + Water Pizzeria, the home of the $8 slice and much, much more," 29 Aug. 2019 At the end of the meal, each diner gets a free soft-serve ice cream cone. Naomi Tomky, Fortune, "High-End Hot Pot Heats Up in the U.S.," 11 Aug. 2019 Nicchi opened the bare bones ice cream truck in 2014 to sell just chocolate, vanilla or twist soft-serve ice cream out of a vintage Mr Softee. Melissa Locker, Time, "Social Media Influencers Have to Pay Double at This Soft Serve Truck Because the Ice Cream Man Has Reached His Melting Point," 3 July 2019 Nutella filling with a swirl of Oreo and milk soft-serve ice cream, of course. Jessica Yadegaran, The Mercury News, "7 new OMG-good extreme ice cream shops in the Bay Area," 1 July 2019 Or, freeze single-serve drinks like water, yogurt or milk (skip the juice) that will be thawed out by lunchtime. Madelyn Fernstrom, NBC News, "Dr. Fernstrom: 7 healthy (and fun) back-to-school lunch hacks," 3 Sep. 2019 Isner fought back a pair of match points before Cilic finally put it away on his serve to advance to a Grand Slam tournament fourth round for a 23rd time. Howard Fendrich, BostonGlobe.com, "Top seed Naomi Osaka ends run by Coco Gauff," 31 Aug. 2019 The ordinance states that less than 15 percent of shelf space in small-box stores contain fresh produce, and that small-box stores sell single-serve food packages that are low-priced but more expensive per ounce. Bob Sandrick, cleveland.com, "Broadview Heights considers moratorium on discount stores," 30 July 2019

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

1 Oct 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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