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.

Definitions of serve
  1. verb
    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
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    type of:
    work
    exert oneself by doing mental or physical work for a purpose or out of necessity
  2. verb
    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”
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    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
  3. verb
    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
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    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
  4. verb
    do military service
    “She served in Vietnam”
    “My sons never served, because they are short-sighted”
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    type of:
    do work, work
    be employed
  5. verb
    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
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    type of:
    foster, nurture
    help develop, help grow
  6. verb
    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
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    type of:
    function, go, operate, run, work
    perform as expected when applied
  7. verb
    mate with
    “male animals serve the females for breeding purposes”
    synonyms: service
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    types:
    stand
    be available for stud services
  8. verb
    spend time in prison or in a labor camp
    synonyms: do
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    types:
    admit
    serve as a means of entrance
    type of:
    pass, spend
    pass time in a specific way
  9. verb
    help to some food; help with food or drink
    synonyms: help
    dish, dish out, dish up, serve up
    provide (usually but not necessarily food)
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    type of:
    cater, ply, provide, supply
    give what is desired or needed, especially support, food or sustenance
  10. verb
    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
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    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
  11. verb
    deliver a warrant or summons to someone
    synonyms: process, swear out
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    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
  12. verb
    be sufficient; be adequate, either in quality or quantity
    “Nothing else will serve
    synonyms: answer, do, suffice
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    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
  13. verb
    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
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    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
  14. verb
    contribute or conduce to
    “The scandal served to increase his popularity”
    Synonyms:
    serve well
    promote, benefit, or be useful or beneficial to
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    types:
    facilitate, help
    be of use
    type of:
    effect, effectuate, set up
    produce
  15. verb
    put the ball into play
    “It was Agassi's turn to serve
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    types:
    ace
    serve an ace against (someone)
    type of:
    go, move
    have a turn; make one's move in a game
  16. noun
    (sports) a stroke that puts the ball in play
    “his powerful serves won the game”
    synonyms: service
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    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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