I UK [sɜː(r)v] / US [sɜrv] verb
Word forms "serve":
present tense I/you/we/they serve he/she/it serves present participle serving past tense served past participle served
1) [intransitive/transitive] to provide food and drink for someone to eat at a meal

A light meal will be served during the flight.

serve something with something:

All dishes are served with a salad.

serve something to someone:

A complimentary afternoon tea is served to all guests.

serve breakfast/lunch/dinner etc:

Dinner is served between 7 and 10 pm.

serve someone with something:

The waiter served them both with salmon poached in white wine.

serve someone something:

Carolyn served them tea and cake in the garden.

serve something hot/cold etc:

The cheese is best served at room temperature.

a) serve or serve out or serve up
[intransitive/transitive] to put food onto a plate for someone

We were served huge portions of spare ribs.

b) [transitive] to be enough food for a particular number of people

The recipe serves four as a light lunch.

2) [intransitive/transitive] to do a job or to perform duties for a person or organization

He served more than 20 years in the army.

Frank has served this company his whole working life.

serve as:

Mr Russell served as president of the Association for fifteen years.

serve on:

Henry served on numerous committees and commissions.

serve in:

I met my wife, Rachel, while serving in the Royal Navy.

serve an apprenticeship (= a period of training):

Sylvie served her apprenticeship with a top Paris designer.

3) [intransitive/transitive] to be used for a particular purpose, especially not the main or original purpose
serve as:

Their spare room also serves as an office.

serve as a reminder/warning:

The decision should serve as a warning to companies that pollute the environment.

serve to remind/illustrate/emphasize/strengthen:

His death serves to remind us just how dangerous using drugs can be.

4) [transitive] to help to achieve something
serve a purpose:

That's a stupid rule. What purpose is it supposed to serve?

serve someone's interests:

They voted for a chairman who might better serve their interests.

serve someone well:

His ability to get on with people served him well in setting up his own business.

5) [transitive] to spend time in prison
serve time:

She served time in Holloway for assaulting a police officer.

serve a sentence:

He's serving a life sentence for murder.

6) [transitive] to provide a group of people or an area with something useful

These gas pipes serve the whole area.

serve the needs of:

a new hospital to serve the needs of the local community

7) [intransitive/transitive] to help customers to buy goods in a shop, especially by bringing them things or helping them to choose what they need
8) [transitive] legal to officially give someone a legal document that orders them to do something
serve someone with something:

She was served with a summons to appear in court.

9) [intransitive/transitive] to hit a ball to your opponent in order to start playing for a point in a game such as tennis

it serves someone right (for doing something) — used for saying that you think someone deserves something unpleasant that happens to them

"I feel awful." "It serves you right for eating so much."

Phrasal verbs:
II UK [sɜː(r)v] / US [sɜrv] noun [countable]
Word forms "serve":
singular serve plural serves
a) a hit of a ball that starts the play in a game such as tennis

The serve was clearly out.

b) a particular way of serving a ball

He's always had a poor serve.

2) Australian informal an instance of telling someone that you do not approve of them or their behaviour

English dictionary. 2014.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • Serve — Serve, v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Served}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Serving}.] [OE. serven, servien, OF. & F. servir, fr. L. servire; akin to servus a servant or slave, servare to protect, preserve, observe; cf. Zend har to protect, haurva protecting. Cf.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • serve — → serf ● serf, serve adjectif (latin servus, esclave) Relatif à l état des serfs : Des hommes de condition serve. Littéraire. Qui fait preuve d une soumission complète à l égard d autrui. ● serf, serve (homonymes) adjectif (latin servus, esclave) …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • serve — [sɜːv ǁ sɜːrv] verb 1. [transitive] COMMERCE to supply customers with a particular product or service or with something they need: • The firm plans to open a London office to serve clients with investments and businesses in Europe. • JAL Group… …   Financial and business terms

  • serve — [sʉrv] vt. served, serving [ME serven < OFr servir < L servire, to serve < servus, servant, slave: see SERF] 1. to work for as a servant 2. a) to do services or duties for; give service to; aid; assist; help b) to give obedience and… …   English World dictionary

  • serve — vt served, serv·ing 1: to deliver, publish, or execute (notice or process) as required by law no notice of any such request was ever served on the husband National Law Journal 2: to make legal service upon (the person named in a process): inform… …   Law dictionary

  • serve — late 12c., to render habitual obedience to, from O.Fr. servir to serve, from L. servire to serve, originally be a slave, related to servus slave, perhaps from an Etruscan word (Cf. Etruscan proper names Servi, Serve). Meaning to attend to (a… …   Etymology dictionary

  • Serve — Serve, v. i. 1. 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. [1913 Webster] The Lord shall give thee rest . . . from the hard bondage wherein thou… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • serve — ► VERB 1) perform duties or services for. 2) be employed as a member of the armed forces. 3) spend (a period) in office, in an apprenticeship, or in prison. 4) present food or drink to. 5) attend to (a customer in a shop). 6) be of use in… …   English terms dictionary

  • serve — [v1] aid, help; supply arrange, assist, attend to, be of assistance, be of use, care for, deal, deliver, dish up*, distribute, do for, give, handle, hit, minister to, nurse, oblige, play, present, provide, provision, set out, succor, wait on,… …   New thesaurus

  • Serve — may refer to: * Serve (tennis) * Secure Electronic Registration and Voting Experiment * Providing a non material good, as in the work of a servant * Supplying customers with food and drink, as in the work of a food server * Delivering a legal or… …   Wikipedia

  • serve up — (something) to offer something. The TV miniseries will be serving up five hour long programs. Hitchcock served up a pitch that Perez hit over the fence for a home run. Filmgoers demand realism, and Lee serves it up without flash or tricks in his… …   New idioms dictionary

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