Definition of


  1. (noun, act) (sports) a stroke that puts the ball in play
  2. (verb, stative) serve a purpose, role, or function
    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. (verb, competition) do duty or hold offices; serve in a specific function
    She served in Congress for two terms
  4. (verb, stative) contribute or conduce to
  5. (verb, social) be used by; as of a utility
    The garage served to shelter his horses
  6. (verb, consumption) help to some food; help with food or drink
  7. (verb, consumption) provide (usually but not necessarily food)
    She dished out the soup at 8 P.M.
    The entertainers served up a lively show
  8. (verb, social) devote (part of) one's life or efforts to, as of countries, institutions, or ideas
    He served the church
    serve the country
  9. (verb, stative) promote, benefit, or be useful or beneficial to
    Their interests are served
    The lake serves recreation
    The President's wisdom has served the country well
  10. (verb, stative) spend time in prison or in a labor camp
  11. (verb, social) work for or be a servant to
    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. (verb, contact) deliver a warrant or summons to someone
  13. (verb, stative) be sufficient; be adequate, either in quality or quantity
    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. (verb, social) do military service
    My sons never served, because they are short-sighted
  15. (verb, contact) mate with
  16. (verb, competition) put the ball into play

via WordNet, Princeton University

Origin of the word Serve

  1. 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 customer)" is first recorded mid-14c.; that of "to set food on (a table)" is from late 14c. Sportin… more

via Online Etymology Dictionary, ©2001 Douglas Harper

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