[ suhb-surv ]
See synonyms for subserve on
verb (used with object),sub·served, sub·serv·ing.
  1. to be useful or instrumental in promoting (a purpose, action, etc.): Light exercise subserves digestion.

  2. Obsolete. to serve as a subordinate.

Origin of subserve

1610–20; <Latin subservīre, equivalent to sub-sub- + servīre to serve

Words Nearby subserve Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use subserve in a sentence

  • If it wasn't because I wish to observe and subserve to the law of the land, I would have killed him long ago.

    The Homesteader | Oscar Micheaux
  • To those ignorant of letters an inscription would but ill subserve this purpose.

    The Catacombs of Rome | William Henry Withrow
  • Let it be shown that barbarism ought not to subserve civilization.

  • It is just that barbarism should subserve civilization; that Wrong should subserve Right.

  • I answer, that it is right that barbarism should subserve civilization.

British Dictionary definitions for subserve


/ (səbˈsɜːv) /

  1. to be helpful or useful to

  2. obsolete to be subordinate to

Origin of subserve

C17: from Latin subservīre to be subject to, from sub- + servīre to serve

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