serve1 W1S1 [sə:v US sə:rv] v
2 serve two/three/four etc (people)
4¦(be useful/helpful)¦
5¦(do useful work)¦
6¦(have an effect)¦
7¦(provide something)¦
10 it serves somebody right
11 serve an apprenticeship
12 serve a summons/writ etc
Phrasal verbs
 serve something<=>out
 serve something<=>up
[Date: 1100-1200; : Old French; Origin: servir, from Latin servire 'to be a slave, serve', from servus 'slave, servant', perhaps from Etruscan]
1.) ¦(FOOD/DRINK)¦ [I and T]
to give someone food or drink, especially as part of a meal or in a restaurant, bar etc
The waiter was serving another table.
Sprinkle with cheese and serve immediately.
serve sth with sth
Serve the soup with crusty bread.
serve breakfast/lunch/dinner
Breakfast is served until 9 a.m.
serve sth to sb
Meals can be served to you in your room.
serve sth hot/cold etc
Teacakes should be served hot with butter.
2.) serve two/three/four etc (people)
if food serves two, three etc, there is enough for that number of people
The recipe serves four.
3.) ¦(SHOP)¦ [I and T]
to help the customers in a shop, especially by bringing them the things that they want
There was only one girl serving customers .
4.) ¦(BE USEFUL/HELPFUL)¦ [I and T]
to be useful or helpful for a particular purpose or reason
serve as
The sofa had to serve as a bed.
The reforms served as a model for the rest of the Communist world.
A large cardboard box will serve the purpose .
Her talent for organization should serve her well .
serve the needs/interests of sb/sth
research projects that serve the needs of industry
5.) ¦(DO USEFUL WORK)¦ [I and T]
to spend a period of time doing useful work or official duties for an organization, country, important person etc
serve as
Lord Herbert served as ambassador to France.
serve in the army/air force/navy etc
He returned to Greece to serve in the army.
serve on
Ann serves on various local committees.
the women who served their country in the war
6.) ¦(HAVE AN EFFECT)¦ [i]formal
to have a particular effect or result
serve as
Her death should serve as a warning to other young people.
serve to do sth
A single example serves to illustrate what I mean.
7.) ¦(PROVIDE SOMETHING)¦ [T usually passive]
to provide an area or a group of people with something that is necessary or useful
Paris is served by two airports.
8.) ¦(PRISON)¦ [T]
to spend a particular period of time in prison
He served an eighteen-month sentence for theft.
Did you know that Les is serving time (=is in prison) ?
9.) ¦(SPORT)¦ [I and T]
to start playing in a game such as tennis or ↑volleyball by throwing the ball up in the air and hitting it over the net
10.) it serves sb right
spoken used to say that you think someone deserves something unpleasant that happens to them, because they have been stupid or unkind
'She kicked me!' 'Serves you right, teasing her like that.'
11.) serve an apprenticeship
to learn a job or skill by working for a particular period of time for someone who has a lot of experience
12.) serve a summons/writ etc
to officially send or give someone a written order to appear in a court of law
if my memory serves me (right/well/correctly) atmemory
serve out [serve sth<=>out] phr v
1.) to complete a particular period of time in prison or doing a job
Dillon's almost served out his sentence (=in prison) .
The Senator's illness means he may not serve out his term .
2.) BrE to put food onto plates
Serve out the rice, will you?
serve up [serve sth<=>up] phr v
to give food to someone as part of a meal
What are you serving up tonight?
serve 2
serve2 n
the action in a game such as tennis or ↑volleyball when you throw the ball in the air and hit it over the net

Dictionary of contemporary English. 2013.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • Serve — Serve, v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Served}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Serving}.] [OE. serven, servien, OF. & F. servir, fr. L. servire; akin to servus a servant or slave, servare to protect, preserve, observe; cf. Zend har to protect, haurva protecting. Cf.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • serve — → serf ● serf, serve adjectif (latin servus, esclave) Relatif à l état des serfs : Des hommes de condition serve. Littéraire. Qui fait preuve d une soumission complète à l égard d autrui. ● serf, serve (homonymes) adjectif (latin servus, esclave) …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • serve — [sɜːv ǁ sɜːrv] verb 1. [transitive] COMMERCE to supply customers with a particular product or service or with something they need: • The firm plans to open a London office to serve clients with investments and businesses in Europe. • JAL Group… …   Financial and business terms

  • serve — [sʉrv] vt. served, serving [ME serven < OFr servir < L servire, to serve < servus, servant, slave: see SERF] 1. to work for as a servant 2. a) to do services or duties for; give service to; aid; assist; help b) to give obedience and… …   English World dictionary

  • serve — vt served, serv·ing 1: to deliver, publish, or execute (notice or process) as required by law no notice of any such request was ever served on the husband National Law Journal 2: to make legal service upon (the person named in a process): inform… …   Law dictionary

  • serve — 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… …   Etymology dictionary

  • Serve — Serve, v. i. 1. 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. [1913 Webster] The Lord shall give thee rest . . . from the hard bondage wherein thou… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • serve — ► VERB 1) perform duties or services for. 2) be employed as a member of the armed forces. 3) spend (a period) in office, in an apprenticeship, or in prison. 4) present food or drink to. 5) attend to (a customer in a shop). 6) be of use in… …   English terms dictionary

  • serve — [v1] aid, help; supply arrange, assist, attend to, be of assistance, be of use, care for, deal, deliver, dish up*, distribute, do for, give, handle, hit, minister to, nurse, oblige, play, present, provide, provision, set out, succor, wait on,… …   New thesaurus

  • Serve — may refer to: * Serve (tennis) * Secure Electronic Registration and Voting Experiment * Providing a non material good, as in the work of a servant * Supplying customers with food and drink, as in the work of a food server * Delivering a legal or… …   Wikipedia

  • serve up — (something) to offer something. The TV miniseries will be serving up five hour long programs. Hitchcock served up a pitch that Perez hit over the fence for a home run. Filmgoers demand realism, and Lee serves it up without flash or tricks in his… …   New idioms dictionary

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