What does Serve mean?

Definitions for Serve

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word Serve.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. serve, serviceverb

    (sports) a stroke that puts the ball in play

    "his powerful serves won the game"

  2. serve, functionverb

    serve a purpose, role, or function

    "The tree stump serves as a table"; "The female students served as a control group"; "This table would serve very well"; "His freedom served him well"; "The table functions as a desk"

  3. serveverb

    do duty or hold offices; serve in a specific function

    "He served as head of the department for three years"; "She served in Congress for two terms"

  4. serveverb

    contribute or conduce to

    "The scandal served to increase his popularity"

  5. service, serveverb

    be used by; as of a utility

    "The sewage plant served the neighboring communities"; "The garage served to shelter his horses"

  6. serve, helpverb

    help to some food; help with food or drink

    "I served him three times, and after that he helped himself"

  7. serve, serve up, dish out, dish up, dishverb

    provide (usually but not necessarily food)

    "We serve meals for the homeless"; "She dished out the soup at 8 P.M."; "The entertainers served up a lively show"

  8. serveverb

    devote (part of) one's life or efforts to, as of countries, institutions, or ideas

    "She served the art of music"; "He served the church"; "serve the country"

  9. serve, serve wellverb

    promote, benefit, or be useful or beneficial to

    "Art serves commerce"; "Their interests are served"; "The lake serves recreation"; "The President's wisdom has served the country well"

  10. serve, doverb

    spend time in prison or in a labor camp

    "He did six years for embezzlement"

  11. serve, attend to, wait on, attend, assistverb

    work for or be a servant to

    "May I serve you?"; "She attends the old lady in the wheelchair"; "Can you wait on our table, please?"; "Is a salesperson assisting you?"; "The minister served the King for many years"

  12. serve, process, swear outverb

    deliver a warrant or summons to someone

    "He was processed by the sheriff"

  13. suffice, do, answer, serveverb

    be sufficient; be adequate, either in quality or quantity

    "A few words would answer"; "This car suits my purpose well"; "Will $100 do?"; "A 'B' grade doesn't suffice to get me into medical school"; "Nothing else will serve"

  14. serveverb

    do military service

    "She served in Vietnam"; "My sons never served, because they are short-sighted"

  15. serve, serviceverb

    mate with

    "male animals serve the females for breeding purposes"

  16. serveverb

    put the ball into play

    "It was Agassi's turn to serve"


  1. servenoun

    the act of putting the ball or shuttlecock in play in various games

    Whose serve is it?

  2. servenoun

    A portion of food, a serving

  3. serveverb

    To be a formal servant for (a god or deity); to worship in an official capacity.

  4. serveverb

    To be a servant for; to work for, to be employed by.

  5. serveverb

    To wait upon (someone) at table; to set food and drink in front of, to help (someone) to food, meals etc.

  6. serveverb

    To treat (someone) in a given manner.

  7. serveverb

    To be a servant or worker; to perform the duties of a servant or employee; to render service.

  8. serveverb

    To be suitor to; to be the lover of.

  9. serveverb

    To be useful to; to meet the needs of.

  10. serveverb

    To have a given use or purpose; to function for something or to do something.

  11. serveverb

    To usefully take the place as, instead of something else.

  12. serveverb

    To set down (food or drink) on the table to be eaten; to bring (food, drink) to a person.

  13. serveverb

    To officially deliver (a legal notice, summons etc.).

  14. serveverb

    To make legal service upon (a person named in a writ, summons, etc.)

    to serve a witness with a subpoena.

  15. serveverb

    To be in military service.

  16. serveverb

    To lead off with the first delivery over the net in tennis, volleyball, ping pong, badminton etc.

  17. serveverb

    To copulate with (of male animals); to cover.

  18. serveverb

    To work, to operate (a weapon).

  19. serveverb

    To work through (a given period of time in prison, a sentence).

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. To SERVEverb

    Etymology: servir, French; servio, Latin.

    Because thou art my brother, should’st thou therefore serve me for nought? Gen. xxix. 15.

    A goddess among gods ador’d, and serv’d
    By angels numberless, thy daily train. John Milton.

    When wealthy, shew thy wisdom not to be
    To wealth a servant, but make wealth serve thee. John Denham.

    Others, pamper’d in their shameless pride,
    Are serv’d in plate, and in their chariots ride. Dryden.

    Bid them cover the table, serve in the meat, and we will come in to dinner. William Shakespeare, Merch. of Venice.

    Soon after our dinner was served in, which was right good viands, both for bread and meat: we had also drink of three sorts, all wholsome and good. Francis Bacon.

    Besmeared with the horrid juice of sepia, they danced a little in phantastick postures, retired a while, and then returned serving up a banquet as at solemn funerals. Taylor.

    Some part he roasts; then serves it up so drest,
    And bids me welcome to this humble feast:
    Mov’d with disdain,
    I with avenging flames the palace burn’d. Dryden.

    The same mess should be served up again for supper, and breakfast next morning. John Arbuthnot, History of John Bull.

    Bodies bright and greater should not serve
    The less not bright. John Milton.

    They that serve the city, shall serve it out of all the tribes of Israel. Ezek. xlviii. 19.

    If any subject, interest, or fancy has recommended, their reasoning is after their fashion; it serves their turn. John Locke.

    When a storm of a sad mischance beats upon our spirits, turn it into some advantage, by observing where it can serve another end, either of religion or prudence. Taylor.

    He consider’d every creature
    Most opportune might serve his wiles. John Milton.

    They think herein we serve the time, because thereby we either hold or seek preferment. Richard Hooker.

    As the former empty plea served the sottish Jews, this equally serves these to put them into a fool’s paradise, by feeding their hopes, without changing their lives. South.

    Nothing would serve them then but riding. Roger L'Estrange.

    One half-pint bottle serves them both to dine,
    And is at once their vinegar and wine. Alexander Pope.

    The dull flat falshood serves for policy,
    And in the cunning, truth itself’s a lye. Alexander Pope.

    A complete brave man must know solidly the main end he is in the world for; and withal how to serve himself of the divine’s high contemplations, of the metaphysician’s subtile speculations, and of the natural philosopher’s minute observations. Kenelm Digby, on the Soul.

    They would serve themselves of this form. Taylor.

    I will serve myself of this concession. William Chillingworth.

    It is much more easy for men to serve their own ends of those principles, which they do not put into men, but find there. John Tillotson, Sermons.

    If they elevate themselves, ’tis only to fall from a higher place, because they serve themselves of other men’s wings, neither understanding their use nor virtue. John Dryden, Dufresn.

    Matters hid leave to God, him serve and fear. John Milton.

  2. To Serveverb

    Israel served for a wife, and for a wife he kept sheep. Hos.

    We will give thee this also, for the service which thou shalt serve with me. Gen. xx. 27.

    Thou hast made me to serve with thy sins; thou hast wearied me with thine iniquities. Is. xliii. 24.

    Martha was cumbered about much serving, and said, Lord, do’st thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? Luke x. 40.

    Both more or less have given him the revolt;
    And none serve with but constrained things,
    Whose hearts are absent too. William Shakespeare, Macbeth.

    Many noble gentlemen came out of all parts of Italy, who had before been great commanders, but now served as private gentlemen without pay. Richard Knolles, History of the Turks.

    The look bewrayed, that as she used these ornaments, not for herself, but to prevail with another, so she feared that all would not serve. Philip Sidney.

    Take it, she said; and when your needs require,
    This little brand will serve to light your fire. Dryden.

    We have the summary of all our griefs,
    When time shall serve to shew in articles. William Shakespeare, H. IV.

    Yet time serves, wherein you may redeem
    Your banish’d honours. William Shakespeare, H. IV.

    As occasion serves, this noble queen
    And prince shall follow with a fresh supply. William Shakespeare, H. VI.

    Read that; ’tis with the royal signet sign’d,
    And given me by the king, when time should serve,
    To be perus’d by you. John Dryden, Spanish Fryar.

    Churches, as every thing else, receive their chief perfection from the end whereunto they serve. Richard Hooker.

    Our speech to worldly superiors we frame in such sort as serveth best to inform and persuade the minds of them, who otherwise neither could nor would greatly regard our necessities. Richard Hooker.

    Priests serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things. Hebr. viii. 5.

    Who lessens thee, against his purpose serves
    To manifest the more thy might. John Milton.

    Fashion is, for the most part, nothing but the ostentation of riches; and therefore the high price of what serves to that, rather encreases than lessens its vent. John Locke.

    First investigate the variety of motions and figures made by the organs which serve for articulation, and the variety of matter to which those articulations are severally applied. William Holder.

    Our victory only served to lead us on to further visionary prospects. Jonathan Swift.


  1. serve

    Serve is a verb that typically refers to the act of providing assistance, help, or a service to someone or something. It involves carrying out duties, fulfilling responsibilities, or performing tasks that are meant to meet a particular purpose or fulfill a specific role for the benefit of others. Serving involves actively aiding others, satisfying their needs, or supporting them in various capacities.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Serveverb

    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

  2. Serveverb

    to be subordinate to; to act a secondary part under; to appear as the inferior of; to minister to

  3. Serveverb

    to be suitor to; to profess love to

  4. Serveverb

    to wait upon; to supply the wants of; to attend; specifically, to wait upon at table; to attend at meals; to supply with food; as, to serve customers in a shop

  5. Serveverb

    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

  6. Serveverb

    to perform the duties belonging to, or required in or for; hence, to be of use to; as, a curate may serve two churches; to serve one's country

  7. Serveverb

    to contribute or conduce to; to promote; to be sufficient for; to satisfy; as, to serve one's turn

  8. Serveverb

    to answer or be (in the place of something) to; as, a sofa serves one for a seat and a couch

  9. Serveverb

    to treat; to behave one's self to; to requite; to act toward; as, he served me very ill

  10. Serveverb

    to work; to operate; as, to serve the guns

  11. Serveverb

    to bring to notice, deliver, or execute, either actually or constructively, in such manner as the law requires; as, to serve a summons

  12. Serveverb

    to make legal service opon (a person named in a writ, summons, etc.); as, to serve a witness with a subp/na

  13. Serveverb

    to pass or spend, as time, esp. time of punishment; as, to serve a term in prison

  14. Serveverb

    to copulate with; to cover; as, a horse serves a mare; -- said of the male

  15. Serveverb

    to lead off in delivering (the ball)

  16. Serveverb

    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

  17. Serveverb

    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

  18. Serveverb

    to perform domestic offices; to be occupied with household affairs; to prepare and dish up food, etc

  19. Serveverb

    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

  20. Serveverb

    to be of use; to answer a purpose; to suffice; to suit; to be convenient or favorable

  21. Serveverb

    to lead off in delivering the ball


  1. Serve

    A serve in tennis is a shot to start a point. A player will hit the ball with a racquet so it will fall into the diagonally opposite backside box without being stopped by the net. Normally players begins a serve by tossing the ball into the air and hitting it. The ball can only touch the net on a return and will be considered good if it falls on the opposite side. If the ball contacts the net on the serve but then proceeds to the proper backside box, it is called a let; this is not a legal serve in the major tours although it is also not a fault. Players typically serve overhead, but serving underhand, although rare, is allowed. The serve is the only shot a player can take their time to set up instead of having to react to an opponent's shot. The serve is one of the more difficult shots for a novice, but once mastered it can be a considerable advantage. Advanced players can hit the serve in many different ways and often use it as an offensive weapon to gain an advantage in the point or to win it outright. Because of this, professional players are expected to win most of their service games, and the ability to break an opponent's serve plays a crucial role in a match.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Serve

    sėrv, v.t. to be a servant to, to work for and obey: to attend or wait upon: to work for: to obey: to be subservient or subordinate to: to wait upon at table, &c.: to do duty for: to treat, behave towards: to render worship to: to aid by good offices: to minister to a priest at mass: to comply with: to requite: to handle, manipulate: to furnish: (naut.) to bind with small cord: (law) to deliver or present formally: to furnish: to cover, of stallions, &c.: to deliver the ball in tennis.—v.i. to be employed as a servant, to discharge any regular duty: to be in subjection: to suffice, to avail, to be suitable or favourable.—n. in tennis, the act of the first player in striking the ball, or the style in which this is done.—ns. Ser′vage (obs.), servitude: the service of a lover; Ser′ver, one who serves: an attendant on the priest at the celebration of the Eucharist: the player who strikes the tennis-ball first: a salver, any utensil for distributing or helping at table.—Serve an office, to discharge the duties of an office; Serve a process or writ, to formally communicate a process or writ to the person to whom it is addressed; Serve an attachment, to levy such a writ on the person or goods by seizure; Serve an execution, to levy an execution on the person or goods by seizure; Serve a sentence, to undergo the punishment prescribed by a judicial sentence; Serve one a trick, to play a trick on one; Serve one out, to take revenge on some one; Serve one right, to treat one as he deserves; Serve one's time, to complete one's apprenticeship; Serve out, to deal or distribute; Serve the purpose of, to answer adequately an end for which something else is designed; Serve the turn, to suffice for one's immediate purpose or need; Serve time, to undergo a period of imprisonment, &c.; Serve up, to bring to table. [Fr. servir—L. servīre, to serve.]

Military Dictionary and Gazetteer

  1. serve

    To be in service; to do duty; to discharge the requirements of an office or employment; and, specifically, to act as a soldier, seaman, etc. To serve a piece, in the artillery, is to load and fire with promptitude and correctness. To serve the vent, to stop it with the thumb.

Rap Dictionary

  1. serveverb

    To defeat an opponent with skill. "Yeah Kris, serve em man, serve em!" -- Boogie Down Productions (Build and Destroy)

  2. serveverb

    To deliver. "Serve 'em a sentence" -- Kool Keith featuring Motion Man (Serve 'Em a Sentence)

  3. serveverb

    To be incarcerated. "Question: Do you have to pack a Tec-9, serve jail time, to learn how to rhyme?" -- Danja Mowf (Question)

  4. serveverb

    To kill. "Say, Knocc and Flesh glock, glock to takes it comin' 2 serve ya" -- Flesh-N-Bone featuring BG Knocc Out (Comin' 2 Serve You)

  5. serveverb

    To have (oral) sexual intercourse.

  6. serveverb

    When someone is broken up with, defeated, or otherwise dismissed we say "he got served."

  7. serveverb

    To sell or deal drugs Do you know any one who serves around here.

Editors Contribution

  1. serve

    To provide a role, purpose or function.

    They serve the customers very efficiently.

    Submitted by MaryC on February 24, 2020  

  2. serve

    To provide a service.

    We serve each other with respect and dignity.

    Submitted by MaryC on March 17, 2020  

Surnames Frequency by Census Records

  1. SERVE

    According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Serve is ranked #148347 in terms of the most common surnames in America.

    The Serve surname appeared 111 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 0 would have the surname Serve.

    69.3% or 77 total occurrences were White.
    16.2% or 18 total occurrences were of Hispanic origin.
    13.5% or 15 total occurrences were Black.

British National Corpus

  1. Spoken Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'Serve' in Spoken Corpus Frequency: #1956

  2. Written Corpus Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'Serve' in Written Corpus Frequency: #2495

  3. Verbs Frequency

    Rank popularity for the word 'Serve' in Verbs Frequency: #140

Anagrams for Serve »

  1. veers

  2. verse

  3. sever

How to pronounce Serve?

How to say Serve in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of Serve in Chaldean Numerology is: 3

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of Serve in Pythagorean Numerology is: 6

Examples of Serve in a Sentence

  1. Adrienne Watson:

    I'm extremely grateful to continue to serve National Security Council and take on this new role. I consider Adrienne Watson lucky to serve with the dedicated staff at National Security Council on behalf of the American people.

  2. Del Potro:

    If you have a good serve on grass, you can win a lot of matches. Feliciano has a big serve. I am serving well too.

  3. Daniel Castro:

    This would only serve to stigmatize and discourage AI use, which could reduce its beneficial social and economic impacts.

  4. Joe Gilbert:

    He’s not playing with power. He’s not playing with serve-plus-one. He’s not creating a huge weapon. A lot of what we talk about is patterns; where we think we have the advantage, i look at the other guy and I go, ‘This is where I think the holes are. This is the best way to get to those holes.’ His job is to go execute it.

  5. Vincent Stewart:

    We don't serve a president, we serve the president, whoever that is.

Popularity rank by frequency of use


Translations for Serve

From our Multilingual Translation Dictionary

  • قدم, تخدمArabic
  • служы́ць, паслужы́цьBelarusian
  • servir, serveiCatalan, Valencian
  • sloužit, podávat, podat, servírovatCzech
  • tjeneDanish
  • servieren, dienenGerman
  • σερβίρισμαGreek
  • serviEsperanto
  • desempeñar, operar, funcionar, servicio, cernir, cerner, servir, sevirSpanish
  • سرو کردن, سرویسPersian
  • kosia, kosiskella, tarjota, hoitaa, syöttö, astua, käyttää, istua, rihmata, palvella, tarjoilla, toimia, toimittaa, syöttää, avustaa, saattaa tietoon, kohdellaFinnish
  • servaFaroese
  • servir, signifier, serviceFrench
  • szerva, szervál, adogatHungarian
  • ծառայելArmenian
  • servirInterlingua
  • servire, portare in tavola, servizioItalian
  • לְשָׁרֵתHebrew
  • サーブJapanese
  • 제공하다Korean
  • serve, servio, prosumLatin
  • serveren, bedienen, dienen, opdienenDutch
  • servirOccitan
  • obsługiwaćPolish
  • saque, sacar, servirPortuguese
  • servir, sarvir, sarveir, survirRomansh
  • serviRomanian
  • послужить, подача, обслужить, подать, подавать, работать, служить, обслуживать, поработатьRussian
  • selvire, serviri, servire, serbire, serbiriSardinian
  • servisSlovene
  • shërbejAlbanian
  • avtjäna, serve, uppvakta, betäcka, servera, serva, fungera, tjänaSwedish
  • servisTurkish

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    lacking in nutritive value
    A commensal
    B askant
    C bonzer
    D jejune

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