- 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.
Origin of serving
- 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
SynonymsSee more synonyms for serve on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for serving
Veterans are a small minority of the population, as well, serving the greater whole.A Veteran’s View: NYC Cold War Between Cops and City Hall
December 29, 2014
It invites dictatorial and rogue regimes to use Americans serving overseas as bargaining chips.Aging Cuban Exiles And Their Lawmakers Bypassed by White House
December 17, 2014
Brown had been serving a life sentence; McCollum had been on Death Row.How the U.S. Justice System Screws Prisoners with Disabilities
December 16, 2014
The policies that followed were not serving democratic demands.The Media's Pro-Torture Cheerleaders
December 10, 2014
In the West Bank, serving time in Israeli jails is a badge of honor.Palestinian Cabinet Member Dies in Confrontation with Israeli Soldier
December 10, 2014
Such butter, of course, cannot be used for serving on the table.Woman's Institute Library of Cookery, Vol. 2
Woman's Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences
(a) What is the advantage of serving milk or cream with cereals?Woman's Institute Library of Cookery, Vol. 1
Woman's Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences
But then one rarely does in talking to a waiter when he is serving you.The Underdog
F. Hopkinson Smith
A bird remarkable for the catholicity of its appetite and serving to illustrate that of ours.The Devil's Dictionary
She seemed to be serving in a temple, making it clean and fragrant in the name of love.Tiverton Tales
- a portion or helping of food or drink
- 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 serving
"action of serving," c.1200, verbal noun from serve (v.). As "a helping of food" from 1769.
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 serving
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)