- to act as a servant.
- to wait on table, as a waiter.
- to offer or have a meal or refreshments available, as for patrons or guests: Come early, we're serving at six.
- to offer or distribute a portion or portions of food or a beverage, as a host or hostess: It was her turn to serve at the faculty tea.
- to render assistance; be of use; help.
- to go through a term of service, do duty as a soldier, sailor, senator, juror, etc.
- to have definite use: This cup will serve as a sugar bowl.
- to answer the purpose: That will serve to explain my actions.
- (in tennis, badminton, handball, etc.) to put the ball or shuttlecock in play with a stroke, swing, or hit.
- to be favorable, suitable, or convenient, as weather or time.
- Ecclesiastical. to act as a server.
- to be in the service of; work for.
- to be useful or of service to; help.
- to go through (a term of service, imprisonment, etc.).
- to render active service to (a sovereign, commander, etc.).
- to render obedience or homage to (God, a sovereign, etc.).
- to perform the duties of (a position, an office, etc.): to serve his mayoralty.
- to answer the requirements of; suffice: This will serve our needs for the moment.
- to contribute to; promote: to serve a cause.
- to wait upon at table; act as a waiter or waitress to.
- to carry and distribute (portions of food or drink) to a patron or a specific table, as a waiter or waitress.
- to act as a host or hostess in offering (a person) a portion of food or drink: May I serve you with some tea and cake?
- to act as a host or hostess in offering or distributing (a portion or portions of food or drink) to another: They served tea and cake to their guests.
- to provide with a regular or continuous supply of something.
- (in tennis, badminton, handball, etc.) to put (the ball or shuttlecock) in play.
- to treat in a specified manner: That served him ill.
- to make legal delivery of (a process or writ).
- to present (a person) with a writ.
- to gratify (desire, wants, needs, etc.).
- (of a male animal) to mate with; service.
- to operate or keep in action (a gun, artillery, etc.).
- Nautical. to wrap (a rope) tightly with small stuff, keeping the turns as close together as possible.
- the act, manner, or right of serving, as in tennis.
- serve one right, to treat one as one deserves, especially to punish justly: It will serve you right if she never speaks to you again.
Origin of serve
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for serve
Placed in drinking water, fluoride can serve people who otherwise have poor access to dental care.Anti-Fluoriders Are The OG Anti-Vaxxers
July 27, 2016
Real Housewives of New Jersey star Teresa Giudice turned herself in to serve a 15-month sentence for bankruptcy fraud.How a ‘Real Housewife’ Survives Prison: ‘I Don’t See [Teresa Giudice] Having a Cakewalk Here’
January 6, 2015
Serve with the warm sauce and your choice of ice cream, whipped cream, or yogurt.Make ‘The Chew’s’ Carla Hall’s Sticky Toffee Pudding
December 28, 2014
Krivov was sentenced to serve four years at a general regime penal colony for his fight for freedom and human rights.Behind Bars for the Holidays: 11 Political Prisoners We Want to See Free In 2015
December 25, 2014
But as we are seeing all over the world, one can serve the other.France’s Wave of Crazy-Terror Christmas Attacks
December 24, 2014
All pursuits that serve to connect the soul with the world whence it came are rejected.Philothea
Lydia Maria Child
He tried to recall some forgotten detail of the business that might serve to occupy him.The Spenders
Harry Leon Wilson
To serve your friend would have been, I deemed, a labour of love.
I would have parted with my life willingly, gladly, to serve you.
To make the balance even you have twenty years still to serve.'The Grand Old Man
Richard B. Cook
- to be in the service of (a person)
- to render or be of service to (a person, cause, etc); help
- (in a shop) to give (customers) information about articles for sale and to hand over articles purchased
- (tr) to provide (guests, customers, etc) with food, drink, etcshe served her guests with cocktails
- to distribute or provide (food, drink, etc) for guests, customers, etcdo you serve coffee?
- (tr sometimes foll by up) to present (food, drink, etc) in a specified mannercauliflower served with cheese sauce
- (tr) to provide with a regular supply of
- (tr) to work actively forto serve the government
- (tr) to pay homage toto serve God
- to answer the requirements of; suitthis will serve my purpose
- (intr; may take an infinitive) to have a use; functionthis wood will serve to build a fire
- to go through (a period of service, enlistment, imprisonment, etc)
- (intr) (of weather, conditions, etc) to be favourable or suitable
- Also: service (tr) (of a male animal) to copulate with (a female animal)
- sport to put (the ball) into play
- (intr) RC Church to act as server at Mass or other services
- (tr) to deliver (a legal document, esp a writ or summons) to (a person)
- to provide (a machine, etc) with an impulse or signal for control purposes or with a continuous supply of fuel, working material, etc
- (tr) nautical to bind (a rope, spar, etc) with wire or fine cord to protect it from chafing, etcSee also seize (def. 8)
- serve a person right informal to pay a person back, esp for wrongful or foolish treatment or behaviour
- sport short for service 1 (def. 17)
- Australian a portion or helping of food or drink
Word Origin and History for serve
late 12c., "to render habitual obedience to," also "minister, give aid, give help," from Old French servir "to do duty toward, show devotion to; set table, serve at table; offer, provide with," from Latin servire "be a servant, be in service, be enslaved;" figuratively "be devoted; be governed by; comply with; conform; flatter," originally "be a slave," related to servus "slave," perhaps from Etruscan (cf. Etruscan proper names Servi, Serve, Latinized as Servius).
By c.1200 also as "to be in the service of, perform a service for; attend upon, be personal servant to; be a slave; owe allegiance to; officiate at Mass or other religious rites;" from early 13c. as "set food at table;" mid-14c. as "to wait on (customers)." From late 14c. as "treat (someone or something) in some fashion." To serve (someone) right "to treat as he deserves" is recorded from 1580s.
He no schuld neuer wond
To seruen him fro fot to hond
["Amis and Amiloun," c.1330]
Sense of "be useful, be beneficial, be suitable for a purpose or function" is from early 14c.; that of "take the place or meet the needs of, be equal to the task" is from late 14c.; that of "suffice" is from mid-15c. Meaning "render active military service" is from 1510s. Sporting sense, in tennis, badminton, etc., first recorded 1580s. Legal sense "present" (a writ, warrant,etc.), "give legal notice of" is from early 15c.
1680s, in sports (tennis, etc.), from serve (v.).