from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To work for.
  • transitive v. To be a servant to.
  • transitive v. To prepare and offer (food, for example): serve tea.
  • transitive v. To place food before (someone); wait on: served the guests a wonderful dinner.
  • transitive v. To provide goods and services for (customers): a hotel that has served tourists at the same location for 30 years.
  • transitive v. To supply (goods or services) to customers. See Usage Note at service.
  • transitive v. To assist the celebrant during (Mass).
  • transitive v. To meet the requirements of; suffice for: This will serve the purpose.
  • transitive v. To be of assistance to or promote the interests of; aid: "Both major parties today seek to serve the national interest” ( John F. Kennedy).
  • transitive v. To work through or complete (a period of service): served four terms in Congress.
  • transitive v. To be in prison for (a period or term): served 10 years for armed robbery.
  • transitive v. To fight or undergo military service for: served the country for five years in the navy.
  • transitive v. To give homage and obedience to: served God.
  • transitive v. To act toward (another) in a specified way: She has served me ill.
  • transitive v. To copulate with; service. Used of male animals.
  • transitive v. Law To deliver or present (a writ or summons).
  • transitive v. Law To present such a writ to.
  • transitive v. Sports To put (a ball or shuttlecock) in play, as in tennis, badminton, or jai alai.
  • transitive v. To bind or whip (a rope) with fine cord or wire.
  • intransitive v. To be employed as a servant.
  • intransitive v. To do a term of duty: serve in the U.S. Air Force; serve on a jury.
  • intransitive v. To act in a particular capacity: serve as a clerk.
  • intransitive v. To be of service or use; function: Let this incident serve as a reminder to future generations.
  • intransitive v. To meet requirements or needs; satisfy: a device that will serve well.
  • intransitive v. To wait on tables: serve at luncheon.
  • intransitive v. Sports To put a ball or shuttlecock into play, as in court games.
  • intransitive v. To assist the celebrant during Mass.
  • n. Sports The right, manner, or act of serving in many court games.
  • serve up Baseball To pitch (a ball) over the middle of home plate, where it is likely to be hit hard.
  • idiom serve (someone) right To be deserved under the circumstances: Punish him; it will serve him right for what he has done to you.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An act of putting the ball or shuttlecock in play in various games.
  • n. A portion of food or drink, a serving.
  • v. To make legal service upon (a person named in a writ, summons, etc.)

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To be a servant or a slave; to be employed in labor or other business for another; to be in subjection or bondage; to render menial service.
  • intransitive v. To perform domestic offices; to be occupied with household affairs; to prepare and dish up food, etc.
  • intransitive v. To be in service; to do duty; to discharge the requirements of an office or employment. Specifically, to act in the public service, as a soldier, seaman. etc.
  • intransitive v. To be of use; to answer a purpose; to suffice; to suit; to be convenient or favorable.
  • intransitive v. To lead off in delivering the ball.
  • transitive v. To work for; to labor in behalf of; to exert one's self continuously or statedly for the benefit of; to do service for; to be in the employment of, as an inferior, domestic, serf, slave, hired assistant, official helper, etc.; specifically, in a religious sense, to obey and worship.
  • transitive v. To be subordinate to; to act a secondary part under; to appear as the inferior of; to minister to.
  • transitive v. To be suitor to; to profess love to.
  • transitive v. To wait upon; to supply the wants of; to attend; specifically, to wait upon at table; to attend at meals; to supply with food.
  • transitive v. Hence, to bring forward, arrange, deal, or distribute, as a portion of anything, especially of food prepared for eating; -- often with up; formerly with in.
  • transitive v. To perform the duties belonging to, or required in or for; hence, to be of use to.
  • transitive v. To contribute or conduce to; to promote; to be sufficient for; to satisfy.
  • transitive v. To answer or be (in the place of something) to.
  • transitive v. To treat; to behave one's self to; to requite; to act toward.
  • transitive v. To work; to operate.
  • transitive v.
  • transitive v. To bring to notice, deliver, or execute, either actually or constructively, in such manner as the law requires.
  • transitive v. To make legal service opon (a person named in a writ, summons, etc.).
  • transitive v. To pass or spend, as time, esp. time of punishment.
  • transitive v. To copulate with; to cover; ; -- said of the male.
  • transitive v. To lead off in delivering (the ball).
  • transitive v. To wind spun yarn, or the like, tightly around (a rope or cable, etc.) so as to protect it from chafing or from the weather. See under Serving.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To attend or wait upon; act as servant to; work for; be in the employment of as a slave, domestic, hired helper, or the like.
  • To render spiritual obedience and worship to; conform to the law and do the will of.
  • To be subordinate or subservient to; minister to.
  • To wait on or attend in the services of the table or at meals.
  • To bring forward and place or arrange, as viands or food on a table: often with up, formerly with forth or in.
  • To administer the service of; perform the duties required for: as, a curate may serve two churches.
  • To contribute or conduce to; promote.
  • To aid by good offices; minister to the wants or well-being of.
  • To be of use to instead of something else: with for: as, a sofa may serve one for a bed.
  • To regulate one's conduct in accordance with the spirit, fashion, or demands of; comply with.
  • To behave toward; treat; requite: as, he served me very shabbily.
  • To suffice; satisfy; content.
  • To be of use or service to; answer the requirements of; avail.
  • To be a professed lover of; be a suitor to.
  • To handle; manipulate; work; manage: as, the guns were well served.
  • Nautical, to bind or wind tightly with small cord, generally spun-yarn or marline: as, to serve a backstay.
  • In law, to deliver or send to; present to in due form; communicate by delivery or by reading, according to different methods prescribed by different laws: often with on or upon before the person: as, to serve a notice upon a tenant.
  • To supply; furnish: usually said of regular and continuous supply: as, a newsman serves families with papers; a reservoir serves a town with water.
  • To earn.
  • To copulate with; cover: used of male animals, as stallions, jacks, or bulls, kept for breeding purposes at a price.
  • To deliver, as a ball, in the manner of the first player in tennis or lawn-tennis, or the pitcher in base-ball: as, he served a swift ball.
  • To deserve.
  • Synonyms To labor for, attend, aid, assist, help.
  • To advance, forward, benefit.
  • To be or act as a servant or attendant; be employed in services or ministrations for another: formerly with to.
  • Specifically
  • To perform domestic offices for another; wait upon one as a servant.
  • To discharge the duties of an office or employment; do duty in any capacity under authority, especially as a soldier or seaman.
  • To be in subjection or servitude.
  • Eccles., to act as server at the celebration of the eucharist. See server, 1 .
  • To answer the purpose; accomplish the end; avail; be sufficient; suffice: often followed by a present infinitive of purpose.
  • To suit; be convenient; be favorable: said especially of a favoring wind or current.
  • To be a professed lover or suitor.
  • To deliver or bat the ball, as done by the player who leads off in tennis or lawn-tennis.
  • n. In tennis or lawn-tennis:
  • n. The act of the first player in striking the ball, or the style in which the ball is then delivered: as, a good serve.
  • n. The right of hitting or delivering the ball first: as, it is my serve.
  • n. The service-tree.
  • n. The fruit of the service-tree.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. help to some food; help with food or drink
  • v. serve a purpose, role, or function
  • v. promote, benefit, or be useful or beneficial to
  • n. (sports) a stroke that puts the ball in play
  • v. do duty or hold offices; serve in a specific function
  • v. provide (usually but not necessarily food)
  • v. mate with
  • v. do military service
  • v. be used by; as of a utility
  • v. devote (part of) one's life or efforts to, as of countries, institutions, or ideas
  • v. contribute or conduce to
  • v. work for or be a servant to
  • v. be sufficient; be adequate, either in quality or quantity
  • v. deliver a warrant or summons to someone
  • v. spend time in prison or in a labor camp
  • v. put the ball into play


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English serven, from Old French servir, from Latin servīre, from servus, slave.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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"), perhaps from Etruscan ; compare Etruscan proper names Servi, Serve.



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