from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • intransitive verb To work for (someone) as a servant.
  • intransitive verb To prepare and offer (food, for example).
  • intransitive verb To place food before (someone); wait on.
  • intransitive verb To provide goods and services for (customers).
  • intransitive verb To supply (goods or services) to customers.
  • intransitive verb To assist the celebrant during (Mass).
  • intransitive verb To meet the requirements of; suffice for.
  • intransitive verb To be of assistance to or promote the interests of; aid.
  • intransitive verb To work through or complete (a period of service).
  • intransitive verb To be in prison for (a period or term).
  • intransitive verb Sports To be removed from play for a specified period because of (a penalty).
  • intransitive verb To fight or undergo military service for.
  • intransitive verb To give homage and obedience to.
  • intransitive verb To act toward (another) in a specified way.
  • intransitive verb To copulate with; service. Used of male animals.
  • intransitive verb 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.
  • intransitive verb To present such a process to (someone).
  • intransitive verb Sports To put (a ball or shuttlecock) in play, as in tennis, badminton, or jai alai.
  • intransitive verb To bind or whip (a rope) with fine cord or wire.
  • intransitive verb To be employed as a servant.
  • intransitive verb To do a term of duty.
  • intransitive verb To act in a particular capacity.
  • intransitive verb To be of service or use; function.
  • intransitive verb To meet requirements or needs; satisfy.
  • intransitive verb To wait on tables.
  • intransitive verb Sports To hit a ball or shuttlecock as a way of starting play in court games.
  • intransitive verb To assist the celebrant during Mass.
  • noun The act or right of serving in many court games.
  • idiom (serve (someone) right) To be deserved under the circumstances.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun In tennis or lawn-tennis:
  • noun The act of the first player in striking the ball, or the style in which the ball is then delivered: as, a good serve.
  • noun The right of hitting or delivering the ball first: as, it is my serve.
  • noun The service-tree.
  • noun The fruit of the service-tree.
  • 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.


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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