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

High tea is more like an early dinner, served around 5 p.m. and would likely have a meat dish component. 2. Olivia Martin, Town & Country, "10 Things to Know if You're Invited to Tea at Kensington Palace," 15 Mar. 2019 From the streets of New York to the party scene in Los Angeles some of our favorite celebrities were out and about serving up some next-level head-to-toe looks this week. Teen Vogue, "Kendall Jenner, Kiki Layne and More Best Outfits of the Week," 15 Mar. 2019 Founded in 1964, when the surrounding suburbs were farmland, HACC is the oldest community college in Pennsylvania and serves 19,000 credit-seeking students and 6,000 other students in non-credit programs. Roy Berendsohn, Popular Mechanics, "How to Become a Skilled Tradesperson," 13 Mar. 2019 This positioning is known as the A frame—the feet serve as the wide, sturdy base and the arms maintain a narrower position overhead. Jenny Mccoy, SELF, "I Went Ice Climbing and Lasted About 6 Whole Minutes," 10 Mar. 2019 Kipman announced an Azure-powered service called Remote Rendering, which will serve as a sort of external GPU of sorts for the HoloLens 2. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Microsoft launches HoloLens 2 with a strong business bent," 24 Feb. 2019 Designed by David Thulstrup, the 4,300-square-foot loft sits above the offices of Danish furniture company Vipp and serves as a livable retail concept store for the brand. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "Rent this cozy loft that doubles as a furniture showroom," 27 Dec. 2018 Julie Erhardt, who had been serving in the role in an acting capacity, will return to her role as deputy chief accountant for technology and innovation in the office of the SEC’s chief accountant, the regulator said. Mengqi Sun, WSJ, "After Hack, SEC Names Its First Chief Risk Officer," 28 Feb. 2019 That palette is one of light blues, bright whites, and dashes of natural woods—all of which serve to reflect the home's beachfront locale while creating a sense of calm. Hadley Keller, House Beautiful, "Minnie Driver Turns a Double Wide Trailer Into a Beachside Oasis with One Kings Lane," 22 Feb. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 As part of the deal, Nestle will expand its line of single-serve capsules to include Starbucks coffee and teas. Abha Bhattarai, chicagotribune.com, "Why Nestle is spending $7 billion on Starbucks: 'Nescafe is boring'," 8 May 2018 The 2016 Olympic bronze medalists were able to neutralize the big serve of the 6-foot-11 Goncalves. Curtis Zupke, latimes.com, "Huntington Beach Open has international flair with Dutch and Brazalian pairs digging wins," 7 May 2018 In 2001, upstart 18-year-old Andy Roddick stuns Pete Sampras in the third round 7-6, 6-3, and an ESPN audience takes note of his powerful serve. Michelle Kaufman, miamiherald, "Key Biscayne gave us first All-Williams final — and ballgirl who won point against Agassi | Miami Herald," 19 Mar. 2018 As part of the deal, Nestle will expand its line of single-serve capsules to include Starbucks coffee and teas. Abha Bhattarai, chicagotribune.com, "Why Nestle is spending $7 billion on Starbucks: 'Nescafe is boring'," 8 May 2018 Additionally, Nestlé will also begin selling Starbucks coffee for its single-serve capsule systems including Nespresso, which is a very good thing for Starbucks-craving users of the machines. Olivia Harrison, refinery29.com, "Nestlé Is Paying $7.15 Billion To Sell Starbucks Products," 7 May 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

19 Mar 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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