1

serve

verb \ ˈsərv \
Updated on: 14 Nov 2017

Definition of serve

served; serving
intransitive verb
1 a :to be a servant
b :to do military or naval service
2 :to assist a celebrant as server at mass
3 a :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
1 a :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
4 a :to work through (a term of service)
b :to put in (a term of imprisonment)
5 a :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
6 a :to furnish or supply with something needed or desired
b :to wait on (a customer) in a store
c :to furnish professional service to
7 a :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
9 a :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

Examples of serve in a Sentence

  1. Soup was served as the first course.

  2. The waiter served our meals quickly.

  3. The restaurant serves excellent Italian food.

  4. The waiter who served us was very nice.

  5. Feel free to serve yourself at the salad bar.

  6. You carve the turkey, and I'll serve.

  7. The roast should serve six.

  8. I'm afraid all of our salespeople are serving other customers right now.

  9. What can we do to serve our customers better?

Recent Examples of serve from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of serve

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

serve Synonyms

Synonyms
slave (for), work (for), dance attendance (upon), wait on (also wait upon)
Related Words
attend, minister (to), tend (to)
Near Antonyms
hinder, impede; damage, harm, hurt, impair, injure; afflict, distress, upset

2

serve

noun

Definition of serve

: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

Examples of serve in a Sentence

  1. She started the game with a powerful serve.

Recent Examples of serve from the Web

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.

First Known Use of serve

1688


SERVE Defined for English Language Learners

serve

verb

Definition of serve for English Language Learners

  • : 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

Definition of serve for English Language Learners

  • 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 Defined for Kids

1

serve

verb \ ˈsərv \

Definition of serve for Students

served; serving
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.

2

serve

noun

Definition of serve for Students

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

Law Dictionary

serve

transitive verb

legal Definition of serve

served; serving
1 :to deliver, publish, or execute (notice or process) as required by law
  • no notice of any such request was ever served on the husband
  • National 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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