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 upthe 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

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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 Okonjo-Iweala will face off against Yoo, who is the first woman to serve as South Korea's trade minister. Charles Riley, CNN, "A woman will oversee global trade for the first time," 8 Oct. 2020 If Joe Biden wins the presidential election in November, Kamala Harris will be the first woman to serve as vice president. Michella Oré, Glamour, "Who Is Kamala Harris's Husband? Here's What You Need to Know About Douglas Emhoff," 7 Oct. 2020 If elected, Jackson would become the first woman to serve as mayor in that city. al, "Six mayoral runoff races to watch in Alabama today," 6 Oct. 2020 Natoli would have been the first transgender woman to serve on the board that oversees a huge swath of the city’s transportation and transit infrastructure, including Muni’s budget, parking and safe bike lanes. Roland Li, SFChronicle.com, "Mayor Breed nominates small business owner to SFMTA board after previous pick’s rejection," 5 Oct. 2020 Ginsburg, the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court, became the first woman, ever, to be honored in this way. Steven P. Dinkin, San Diego Union-Tribune, "A supreme idea: More female justices," 4 Oct. 2020 Wine-Banks was the only female prosecutor during the Watergate scandal and the first woman to serve as U.S. General Counsel of the Army under President Jimmy Carter. Sergio Carmona, sun-sentinel.com, "Florida JCCs presenting virtual book festival," 2 Oct. 2020 Ginsburg, the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court, will be buried next week in Arlington National Cemetery beside her husband, Martin, who died in 2010. The Associated Press, NOLA.com, "Ruth Bader Ginsburg is first woman in American history to lie in state at US Capitol," 25 Sep. 2020 Ginsburg, the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court, will be buried next week in Arlington National Cemetery beside her husband, Martin, who died in 2010. Lisa Mascaro, Anchorage Daily News, "With ‘profound sorrow’: Ginsburg lies in state at US Capitol," 25 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Trailing 5-6 in the opening set of the fourth round, Djokovic lost his serve, removed a ball from his pocket and whacked it in frustration toward the back of the court, inadvertently hitting a line umpire in the throat. Christopher Clarey, New York Times, "Djokovic and Kenin Push Through to French Open Semifinals," 7 Oct. 2020 Her fastest serve was clocked at 168 kph (104 mph). John Leicester And Andrew Dampf, sun-sentinel.com, "Pembroke Pines’ Sofia Kenin makes it into French Open semifinals," 7 Oct. 2020 His serve was shaky at the Italian Open, leading to a shock, straight-set quarterfinal loss to the diminutive Argentine Diego Schwartzman. oregonlive, "Rafael Nadal vs. Novak Djokovic appears certain for 2020 French Open, yet final will not have obvious favorite," 7 Oct. 2020 But when her next serve resulted in an error, the hosts were back in business. Robert Avery, Houston Chronicle, "FBCA volleyball struggles with foes in League City, Port Arthur," 7 Oct. 2020 Three flavors of low-proof cocktails in single-serve cans. Sharyn Jackson, Star Tribune, "These 7 Minnesota distilleries are making cocktails that are ready to drink," 18 Sep. 2020 Zverev only lost seven points behind his first serve in the final three sets and struck 24 aces overall. Ravi Ubha, CNN, "Alexander Zverev reaches first Grand Slam final after a comeback win at US Open," 12 Sep. 2020 The incident occurred late in the first set, after Djokovic had his serve broken to fall behind, 6-5. Jason Gay, WSJ, "Novak Djokovic Is Disqualified From U.S. Open After Hitting Ball Which Struck Official," 6 Sep. 2020 The California ice cream chain is known for its soft-serve topped with raw honeycomb. Priscilla Totiyapungprasert, The Arizona Republic, "Can't decide between coffee or ice cream? Here are 13 places for affogato in metro Phoenix," 20 Aug. 2020

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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Time Traveler for serve

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for serve

Last Updated

14 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Serve.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/serve. Accessed 24 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for serve

serve

verb
How to pronounce serve (audio)

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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Comments on serve

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