- To serve is to give someone service or present someone with something.
- An example of serve is when you bring someone a drink.
- An example of serve is when you spend a year in a committed situation, such as in the military or in prison.
- An example of serve is when you deliver legal papers that must be delivered in a specific and prescribed manner.
A bartender serves drinks.
transitive verbserved, serving
- to work for as a servant
- to do services or duties for; give service to; aid; assist; help
- to give obedience and reverent honor to (God, one's lord, etc.)
- Archaic to pay court to (a lady)
- to do military or naval service for
- to pass or spend (a term of imprisonment, military service, etc.): to serve a year in prison
- to carry out the duties connected with (a position, office, etc.)
- to act as server for (Mass, Benediction, etc.)
- to wait on (customers), as in a store
- to provide (customers, clients, or users) with goods or services, esp. professional services
- to provide (goods) for customers; supply
- to prepare and offer (food, etc.) in a certain way: serve the beef with rice
- to offer or set food, etc. before (a person)
- to give someone a portion or portions of (food, etc.) at the table: please serve me some peas
- to meet the needs or satisfy the requirements of: a tool to serve many purposes
- to promote or further: to serve the national interest
- to be used by: a hospital that serves the entire city
- to function or perform for: if memory serves me well
- to behave toward; treat: to be cruelly served
- to deliver (a legal instrument, as a summons)
- to deliver a legal instrument to; esp., to present with a writ
- to hit (a tennis ball, etc.) to one's opponent in order to start play
- to copulate with (a female): said of an animal
- Naut. to put a binding around in order to protect or strengthen (rope, etc.)
Origin of serveMiddle English serven ; from Old French servir ; from Classical Latin servire, to serve ; from servus, servant, slave: see serf
- to work as a servant
- to be in service; do service: to serve in the navy
- to carry out the duties connected with a position, office, etc.
- to act as server for Mass, Benediction, etc.
- to be used or usable; be of service; function
- to meet needs or satisfy requirements
- to provide guests with something to eat or drink, as by waiting on table
- to be suitable or favorable: said of weather, wind, etc.
- to start play by hitting the ball, etc. to one's opponent, as in tennis
serve someone right
verbserved served, serv·ing, serves
- To work for (someone) as a servant: The steward serves the king.
- a. To prepare and offer (food, for example): serve tea.b. To place food before (someone); wait on: served the guests a wonderful dinner.
- a. To provide goods and services for (customers): a hotel that has served tourists at the same location for 30 years.b. To supply (goods or services) to customers. See Usage Note at service.
- To assist the celebrant during (Mass).
- a. To meet the requirements of; suffice for: This will serve the purpose. The tent served us well in the storm.b. To be of assistance to or promote the interests of; aid: “Both major parties today seek to serve the national interest” (John F. Kennedy).
- a. To work through or complete (a period of service): served four terms in Congress.b. To be in prison for (a period or term): served 10 years for armed robbery.c. Sports To be removed from play for a specified period because of (a penalty).
- To fight or undergo military service for: served the country for five years in the navy.
- To give homage and obedience to: served God.
- To act toward (another) in a specified way: She has served me ill.
- To copulate with; service. Used of male animals.
- Law a. To deliver or present (a process of the court, such as a summons or court order) in a manner prescribed by law to a person who is legally entitled to receive it or legally required to obey it.b. To present such a process to (someone).
- Sports To put (a ball or shuttlecock) in play, as in tennis, badminton, or jai alai.
- To bind or whip (a rope) with fine cord or wire.
- To be employed as a servant.
- To do a term of duty: serve in the US Air Force; serve on a jury.
- To act in a particular capacity: serve as a clerk.
- To be of service or use; function: Let this incident serve as a reminder to future generations.
- To meet requirements or needs; satisfy: a device that will serve well.
- To wait on tables: serve at luncheon.
- Sports To hit a ball or shuttlecock as a way of starting play in court games.
- To assist the celebrant during Mass.
Origin of serveMiddle English serven, from Old French servir, from Latin servīre, from servus, slave.
- (sports: act of putting the ball or shuttlecock in play): receive
(third-person singular simple present serves, present participle serving, simple past and past participle served)
- (personal) To provide a service.
- To be a formal servant for (a god or deity); to worship in an official capacity. [from 12th c.]
- To be a servant for; to work for, to be employed by. [from 13th c.]
- To wait upon (someone) at table; to set food and drink in front of, to help (someone) to food, meals etc. [from 13th c.]
- (intransitive) To be a servant or worker; to perform the duties of a servant or employee; to render service. [from 14th c.]
- To set down (food or drink) on the table to be eaten; to bring (food, drink) to a person. [from 15th c.]
- (archaic) To treat (someone) in a given manner. [from 13th c.]
- (archaic) To be suitor to; to be the lover of. [from 14th c.]
- To be effective.
- To be useful to; to meet the needs of. [from 14th c.]
- (intransitive) To have a given use or purpose; to function for something or to do something. [from 14th c.]
- (intransitive) To usefully take the place as, instead of something else. [from 14th c.]
- (intransitive) To be in military service. [from 16th c.]
- (law) To deliver a document.
- To officially deliver (a legal notice, summons etc.). [from 15th c.]
- To make legal service upon (a person named in a writ, summons, etc.)
- to serve a witness with a subpoena
- (intransitive, sports) To lead off with the first delivery over the net in tennis, volleyball, ping pong, badminton etc. [from 16th c.]
- To copulate with (of male animals); to cover. [from 16th c.]
- (military) To work, to operate (a weapon). [from 18th c.]
- To work through (a given period of time in prison, a sentence). [from 19th c.]
- (nautical) To wind spun yarn etc. tightly around (a rope or cable, etc.) so as to protect it from chafing or from the weather.
From Middle English serven, from Middle French servir, from Old French, from Latin servire (“to be a slave; to serve”), from Latin servus (“slave; servant”), which perhaps derives from Etruscan (compare Etruscan proper names Servi, Serve).
serve - Legal Definition
- To deliver a legal document, especially a process or notice; to present a legal notice or subpoena to a person as required by law.
- To spend time in the armed forces or in some uniformed service (police, fire, and so on). See also service.