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(1)   (sports) a stroke that puts the ball in play
"His powerful serves won the game"


(2)   Put the ball into play
"It was Agassi's turn to serve"
(3)   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)   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"
(5)   Help to some food; help with food or drink
"I served him three times, and after that he helped himself"
(6)   Mate with
"Male animals serve the females for breeding purposes"
(7)   Deliver a warrant or summons to someone
"He was processed by the sheriff"
(8)   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"
(9)   Be used by; as of a utility
"The sewage plant served the neighboring communities"
"The garage served to shelter his horses"
(10)   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"
(11)   Contribute or conduce to
"The scandal served to increase his popularity"
(12)   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"
(13)   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"
(14)   Spend time in prison or in a labor camp
"He did six years for embezzlement"


From < < < < , perhaps from ; compare Etruscan proper names , .


  1. the act of putting the ball or shuttlecock in play in various games
    Whose serve is it?
  2. A portion of food, a serving


  1. 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. To be subordinate to; to act a secondary part under; to appear as the inferior of; to minister to.
  3. To be suitor to; to profess love to.
  4. 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. 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. 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. To contribute or conduce to; to promote; to be sufficient for; to satisfy; as, to serve one's turn.
  8. To answer or be (in the place of something) to; as, a sofa serves one for a seat and a couch.
  9. To treat; to behave one's self to; to requite; to act toward; as, he served me very ill.
  10. To work; to operate; as, to serve the guns.
  11. To bring to notice, deliver, or execute, either actually or constructively, in such manner as the law requires; as, to serve a summons.
  12. To make legal service opon (a person named in a writ, summons, etc.); as, to serve a witness with a subpoena.
    2008 Colloff, Pamela, The Fire That Time, Texas Monthly; Austin: Emmis Publishing, April 2008, p158:
    • On the morning of February 28, 1993, ATF agents gathered at a staging area near Waco and prepared to serve a search warrant on the Branch Davidians' residence.
  13. To pass or spend, as time, esp. time of punishment; as, to serve a term in prison.
  14. To copulate with; to cover; as, a horse serves a mare; -- said of the male.
  15. To lead off in delivering (the ball).
  16. 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. 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. To perform domestic offices; to be occupied with household affairs; to prepare and dish up food, etc.
  19. 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. To be of use; to answer a purpose; to suffice; to suit; to be convenient or favorable.