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

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


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

Nearby words

  1. serumal,
  2. serv.,
  3. serval,
  4. servant,
  5. servant church,
  6. serve a purpose,
  7. serve one right,
  8. serve time,
  9. serve up,
  10. served


    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

Related forms Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for served

British Dictionary definitions for served



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

Word Origin and History for served
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with served


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.