[ surv ]
/ sɜrv /

verb (used without object), served, serv·ing.

verb (used with object), served, serv·ing.


the act, manner, or right of serving, as in tennis.

Idioms for serve

    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


1, 2 attend.

OTHER WORDS FROM serve Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for serve one right

/ (sɜːv) /



sport short for service 1 (def. 17)
Australian a portion or helping of food or drink

Derived forms of serve

servable 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 serve one right (1 of 2)

serve one right

Be deserved under the circumstances. For example, That punishment serves him right after what he's done to you. It is also put as serves you right, as in It wasn't accepted? Serves you right for applying so late. These idioms use serve in the sense of “treat in a specified manner,” in this case, justly. [Late 1500s]

Idioms and Phrases with serve one right (2 of 2)


In addition to the idioms beginning with serve

  • serve a purpose
  • serve one right
  • serve time
  • serve up

also see:

  • 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.