1 verb
1 FOOD/DRINK (I, T) to give someone food or drink as part of a meal: What kind of wine should we serve? | serve sth with sth: Serve the dish with rice and a green salad. | serve sb: Why aren't you out there serving the guests? | serve sth hot/cold etc: delicious served hot or cold | serve breakfast/lunch/dinner: Breakfast is served between 7 and 9 a.m. | serving spoon/dish (=one used to serve food)
2 serve two/three/four etc if food serves two, three etc people, there is enough for that number of people: One large fish should serve two to three people.
3 BE USEFUL/HELPFUL (I, T) to be useful or helpful for a particular purpose or reason: serve as sth: The old couch had to serve as a guest bed. | serve sb well: Her talent for selling will serve her well in the future. | serve sb's needs: We don't get enough aid to serve our needs. | serve a purpose: If you haven't got a crate, a large cardboard box will serve the purpose. | Sure, you could phone her, but what purpose would that serve?
4 DO A HELPFUL JOB (I, T) to spend a period of time doing a job, especially one that helps the organization: The school board members serve a two-year term.
(+ in): He returned to Greece to serve in the army. (+ on): Annette serves on various local committees. (+ as): Martin served as ambassador to Burma in the '60s. | serve sb/sth: And let's not forget the women who served their country in the war.
5 HAVE AN EFFECT (I, T) to have a particular effect or result: serve to do sth: Let that serve to demonstrate what happens if you don't pay attention. | serve (sb) as sth: The pictures only served as a reminder of happier times.
6 SHOP/RESTAURANT (I, T) to help the customers in a shop, restaurant etc, especially by bringing them the things that they want: The waitress doesn't seem to want to serve us. | Are you being served?
7 PROVIDE STH (T) to provide a group of people with something that is necessary or useful: water mains to serve the new homes in the area
8 PRISON (T) to spend a particular period of time in prison: serve a sentence: Fox had served an eighteen-month sentence for burglary. | serve time (=spend time in prison)
9 it serves sb right spoken used to say that you think someone deserves it if something unpleasant happens to them, because they have been stupid or unkind: “Ouch! She pinched me!” “Serves you right, teasing her like that.”
10 SPORT (I, T) to start playing in a game such as tennis or volleyball by throwing the ball up in the air and hitting it to your opponent
11 serve an apprenticeship to learn a job or skill by working for a fixed 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
13 CHURCH (I) to help a priest during the Eucharist
—see also: if my memory serves me (right/well/correctly) memory (4) serve sth out phrasal verb (T)
1 to continue doing something until the end of a fixed period of time: Dillon's served out nearly all his sentence.
2 BrE to put food onto plates: Serve out the rice, will you?
serve sth up phrasal verb (T) to put food onto plates so that people can eat it 2 noun (C) the action in a game such as tennis or volleyball in which you throw the ball in the air and hit it to your opponent

Longman dictionary of contemporary English. 2004.


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 — 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 — 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 — 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 as — index exercise (discharge a function) Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • serve — I n. (tennis) 1) the serve was good; long; out 2) a serve to (a serve to the backhand) II v. 1) (A) ( to bring ) she served dinner to us; or: she served us dinner 2) (d; intr.) to serve as ( to fulfill the functions of ) (his illness served as an …   Combinatory dictionary

  • serve — verb 1 give sb food or drink ADVERB ▪ immediately ▪ Pour the sauce over the pasta and serve immediately. VERB + SERVE ▪ be ready to ▪ Cover and chill the salad until ready to serve …   Collocations dictionary

  • serve — servable, serveable, adj. /serrv/, v., served, serving, n. v.i. 1. to act as a servant. 2. to wait on table, as a waiter. 3. to offer or have a meal or refreshments available, as for patrons or guests: Come early, we re serving at six. 4. to… …   Universalium

  • serve — I. verb (served; serving) Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo French servir, from Latin servire to be a slave, serve, from servus slave, servant Date: 13th century intransitive verb 1. a. to be a servant b. to do military or naval service …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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