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

And no one in our nation will benefit from the 14 days an actress will serve for cheating in college admissions. Helen Murphy, PEOPLE.com, "John Legend Reacts to Felicity Huffman's 14-Day Sentence: 'Prisons and Jails Are Not the Answer'," 14 Sep. 2019 The nationally televised game will serve as the finale for this year’s event. Stephen Means, cleveland.com, "Ohio State football commits Lejond Cavazos, Kyle McCord face off on ESPN2 tonight: Buckeyes recruiting news," 13 Sep. 2019 Both Gurira and Nyong’o will serve as executive producers on the project. Sydney Scott, Essence, "Lupita Nyong'o And Danai Gurira's 'Americanah' Adaptation Headed To HBO Max," 13 Sep. 2019 Twelve will serve as jurors and four as alternates. Washington Post, "The Latest: Jury pool dismissed, selections pending," 13 Sep. 2019 The bar will serve guests seven days a week, and the club will open its doors on Friday and Saturday nights. Daily Pilot, "New Costa Mesa club seeks to electrify O.C.'s queer nightlife scene," 13 Sep. 2019 All the beauty will serve as inspiration for plein air painters with the Pewaukee Area Arts Council who will be at Oaktober Fest. Chelsey Lewis, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Wisconsin's biggest bur oak is more than 300 years old, and you can only see it during a special event in October," 12 Sep. 2019 Wednesday’s vote also included an additional $2 million to fund an information management system that will serve as a publicly accessible repository of information for the entire superfund site. oregonlive, "Portland City council votes to fund cleanup plan on superfund site," 12 Sep. 2019 Cunningham will serve the remainder of Redmon’s two-year term after he was appointed to the position on Sept. 5. Chris Shelton, Houston Chronicle, "Familiar face returns after Cunningham resigns from Humble ISD school board," 12 Sep. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 Over at Sweetie’s Cheesecakes in single-serve jars, there’s more local mixing-it-up. Kim Pierce, Dallas News, "Rowlett Farmers Market gets a new day and time," 29 July 2019 Djokovic won only 29 percent of the points on his second serve and committed 39 unforced errors to Nadal’s 17. Andrew Dampf, The Seattle Times, "Back on top: Nadal beats Djokovic for 9th Italian Open title," 19 May 2019 In the first set, Djokovic won 20 of 21 points on his serve. Tom Perrotta, WSJ, "Novak Djokovic Rolls to Australian Open Title," 27 Jan. 2019 Williams didn't win another point on serve -- losing 10 in a row -- after her injury against Pliskova in Melbourne and duly struck a double fault into the net on her first point on serve following Sunday's tweak. Ravi Ubha, CNN, "Serena Williams advances to US Open quarterfinals but injures her ankle," 1 Sep. 2019 Gauff won just one service game and lost 64% of points on serve. Stanley Kay, SI.com, "Naomi Osaka–Coco Gauff U.S. Open Showdown Preludes Exciting Future of Tennis," 1 Sep. 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

17 Sep 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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