[ sur-ving ]
/ ˈsɜr vɪŋ /


the act of a person or thing that serves.
a single portion of food or drink; helping.
Electricity. a layer of material, as jute yarn or tape, that is applied to the core or the exterior of a lead-covered cable and acts as a protective covering.


for use in distributing food to or at the table: a serving tray.

Nearby words

  1. serviette,
  2. servile,
  3. servile work,
  4. servilely,
  5. servility,
  6. servite,
  7. servitor,
  8. servitude,
  9. servius tullius,
  10. servlet

Origin of serving

Middle English word dating back to 1175–1225; see origin at serve, -ing1

Related formsun·serv·ing, adjective


[ 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.

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 serving

British Dictionary definitions for serving


/ (ˈsɜːvɪŋ) /


a portion or helping of food or drink


/ (sɜːv) /



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 serving
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with serving


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.