[ surv ]
/ sɜrv /
verb (used without object), served, serv·ing.
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.
verb (used with object), served, serv·ing.
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.
Pore Over vs. Pour OverSince pour is a common word and sounds identical to pore, many English speakers use the verb pour in the verb phrase pore over meaning “to meditate or ponder intently.”
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
1125–75; Middle English serven < Old French servir < Latin servīre, equivalent to serv(us) slave (cf. serf) + -īre infinitive suffix
serv·a·ble, serve·a·ble, adjectiveo·ver·serve, verb (used with object)un·der·served, adjectiveun·serv·a·ble, adjective
un·served, adjectivewell-served, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019
British Dictionary definitions for over-serve
/ (sɜːv) /
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
Derived Formsservable or serveable, adjective
Word Origin for serve
C13: from Old French servir, from Latin servīre, from servus a slave
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Idioms and Phrases with over-serve
In addition to the idioms beginning with serve
- serve a purpose
- serve one right
- serve time
- serve up
- break someone's serve
- first come, first served
- hand to on a silver platter (serve up on a plate)
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.