Definitions

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

  • transitive verb To serve to promote (an end); be useful to.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To serve in subordination; be subservient, useful, or instrumental to; promote: scarcely to be distinguished now from serve.
  • To avail: used reflexively.
  • To serve in an inferior capacity; be subservient or subordinate.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb To serve in subordination or instrumentally; to be subservient to; to help forward; to promote.
  • intransitive verb To be subservient or subordinate; to serve in an inferior capacity.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • verb To serve to promote (an end); to be useful to.
  • verb To assist in carrying out.

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

  • verb be helpful or useful

Etymologies

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

[Latin subservīre : sub-, sub- + servīre, to serve; see serve.]

Examples

  • Most activities in our life are of this kind; they subserve some purpose which is not a sovereign theme by itself and which cannot, on the strength of its own substance, become the object of a frui proper — of contemplative or self-immersing enjoyment.

    Insight Scoop | The Ignatius Press Blog:

  • Localizability in this sense goes beyond mere implementation in local neural circuitry, since a given bit of circuitry could (and often does) subserve more than one cognitive function.

    Modularity of Mind

  • On the face of things, description theory predicts that imagery should depend upon the mechanisms and brain structures that subserve conceptual, non-imaginal thought, and not those that subserve perception.

    His Name Was Do Re Mi

  • My purpose is to show that poverty and misfortune make no invidious distinctions of “race, color, or previous condition,” but that wealth unduly centralized oppresses all alike; therefore, that the labor elements of the whole United States should sympathize with the same elements in the South, and in some favorable contingency effect some unity of organization and action, which shall subserve the common interest of the common class.

    Black and White

  • As for the current case, I agree that the present level of media hysteria can neither assist the police investigation nor subserve justice.

    The Media Coverage of Robert Murat is Shameful

  • It would be impossible to lay it all before you, and the most I can do, or need do to-night, is to take up the principal points and put them before you with such prominence as may subserve the purposes of our present argument.

    Essays

  • Two membranous bags, intended to subserve respectively the protection and nutrition of the young creature, have been developed from the skin and from the under and hinder surface of the body; the former, the so-called

    Essays

  • Little is known about the neuronal mechanisms that subserve long-term memory persistence in the brain.

    I'd Forgotten to Post about this one

  • The guinea-pig has teeth which are shed before it is born, and hence can never subserve the masticatory purpose for which they seem contrived, and, in like manner, the female dugong has tusks which never cut the gum.

    Essays

  • My purpose is to show that poverty and misfortune make no invidious distinctions of “race, color, or previous condition,” but that wealth unduly centralized oppresses all alike; therefore, that the labor elements of the whole United States should sympathize with the same elements in the South, and in some favorable contingency effect some unity of organization and action, which shall subserve the common interest of the common class.

    Black and White

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