serve

To serve is to perform a role or function. While your co-worker is out sick, you gladly serve as his replacement until he gets better.

Serve comes from the Latin word for servant or slave, but you can serve people without being subordinate to them. You might serve your family hamburgers for dinner, or serve the tennis ball. If you serve a cause, you devote yourself to it. Bug repellant will serve you well on a summer fishing trip. In prison you serve time. If you're elected Mayor, you'll serve a term of three or four years.

Primary Meanings of serve

1.
v
devote (part of) one's life or efforts to, as of countries, institutions, or ideas
2.
v
help to some food; help with food or drink
3.
v
deliver a warrant or summons to someone
4.
v
be sufficient; be adequate, either in quality or quantity
5.
vn
put the ball into play
(sports) a stroke that puts the ball in play
Full Definitions of serve
1

v 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”
Synonyms:
assist, attend, attend to, wait on
work for or be a servant to
Type of:
work
exert oneself by doing mental or physical work for a purpose or out of necessity

v 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”
Types:
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sit
serve in a specific professional capacity
staff
serve on the staff of
act
discharge one's duties
rotate
perform a job or duty on a rotating basis
function, officiate
perform duties attached to a particular office or place or function
caddie, caddy
act as a caddie and carry clubs for a player
represent
be a delegate or spokesperson for; represent somebody's interest or be a proxy or substitute for, as of politicians and office holders representing their constituents, or of a tenant representing other tenants in a housing dispute
criticise, criticize
act as a critic
bank
act as the banker in a game or in gambling
Type of:
do work, work
be employed

v work for or be a servant to

“May I serve you?”
“The minister served the King for many years”
Synonyms:
assist, attend, attend to, wait on
Types:
valet
serve as a personal attendant to
fag
act as a servant for older boys, in British public schools
Type of:
aid, assist, help
give help or assistance; be of service

v do military service

“She served in Vietnam”
“My sons never served, because they are short-sighted”
Type of:
do work, work
be employed

v 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”
Synonyms:
serve well
Type of:
foster, nurture
help develop, help grow

v be used by; as of a utility

“The sewage plant served the neighboring communities”
“The garage served to shelter his horses”
Synonyms:
service
function
serve a purpose, role, or function
Type of:
function, go, operate, run, work
perform as expected when applied

v mate with

“male animals serve the females for breeding purposes”
Synonyms:
service
Types:
stand
be available for stud services

v spend time in prison or in a labor camp

Synonyms:
do
Types:
admit
serve as a means of entrance
Type of:
pass, spend
pass time in a specific way
2

v help to some food; help with food or drink

Synonyms:
help
dish, dish out, dish up, serve up
provide (usually but not necessarily food)
Type of:
cater, ply, provide, supply
give what is desired or needed, especially support, food or sustenance

v provide (usually but not necessarily food)

“We serve meals for the homeless”
“The entertainers served up a lively show”
Synonyms:
dish, dish out, dish up, serve up
help
help to some food; help with food or drink
Types:
plank
cook and serve on a plank
Type of:
cater, ply, provide, supply
give what is desired or needed, especially support, food or sustenance
3

v deliver a warrant or summons to someone

Synonyms:
process, swear out
Types:
subpoena
serve or summon with a subpoena
rinse, wash
clean with some chemical process
elute
wash out with a solvent, as in chromatography
Type of:
deliver
bring to a destination, make a delivery
4

v be sufficient; be adequate, either in quality or quantity

“Nothing else will serve
Synonyms:
answer, do, suffice
Types:
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bridge over, keep going, tide over
suffice for a period between two points
go a long way
suffice or be adequate for a while or to a certain extent
function
serve a purpose, role, or function
measure up, qualify
prove capable or fit; meet requirements
go around
be sufficient
prelude
serve as a prelude or opening to
act as
function as or act like
Type of:
fulfil, fulfill, live up to, satisfy
meet the requirements or expectations of

v 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”
Synonyms:
function
service
be used by; as of a utility
Types:
prelude
serve as a prelude or opening to
act as
function as or act like
Type of:
answer, do, suffice
be sufficient; be adequate, either in quality or quantity

v contribute or conduce to

“The scandal served to increase his popularity”
Synonyms:
serve well
promote, benefit, or be useful or beneficial to
Types:
facilitate, help
be of use
Type of:
effect, effectuate, set up
produce
5

v put the ball into play

“It was Agassi's turn to serve
Types:
ace
serve an ace against (someone)
Type of:
go, move
have a turn; make one's move in a game

n (sports) a stroke that puts the ball in play

“his powerful serves won the game”
Synonyms:
service
Types:
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ace
a serve that the receiver is unable to reach
fault
(sports) a serve that is illegal (e.g., that lands outside the prescribed area)
let, net ball
a serve that strikes the net before falling into the receiver's court; the ball must be served again
double fault
(tennis) two successive faults in serving resulting in the loss of the point
footfault
a fault that occurs when the server in tennis fails to keep both feet behind the baseline
Type of:
tennis shot, tennis stroke
the act of hitting a tennis ball with a tennis racket

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