- 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
Examples from the Web for serves
She now serves as an Associate Professor at Colorado State University and has authored several books on autism and animal science.The Most Inspiring Bits of Temple Grandin’s Reddit AMA
November 18, 2014
He has close ties with the city political establishment and serves more than 200 needy families a week through his food bank.Welcome to Assadville, USA
November 11, 2014
Wicca includes ceremony and ritual that serves the union of the divine with nature rather than embracing a personal god.‘Gods of Suburbia’: Dina Goldstein’s Arresting Photo Series on Religion vs. Consumerism
November 8, 2014
It serves as the heart of the collective works, as an interface between the cosmos and humanity.The Tiniest Jackson Pollock
November 5, 2014
The discussion of race in the league just serves to distract from why players misbehave.Ex-NFL Linebacker: We Talk Around Race, Not About It
October 23, 2014
It serves him right for meddling with matters that don't concern him.Brave and Bold
The first duty of law is to keep sound the society it serves.
But it also serves to bring us finally to the vocabulary of Esmond.De Libris: Prose and Verse
It rather means a home where everything pertaining to it serves His cause.Ester Ried Yet Speaking
Ferdinand is the most ambitious man in Europe, false also if it serves his purpose.Fair Margaret
H. Rider Haggard
- 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 serves
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.).
Idioms and Phrases with serves
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)