verb (used without object), served, serving.
to act as a servant.
to wait on table, as a waiter.
to offer or have a meal or refreshments available, as for patrons or guests: Come early, we're serving at six.
to offer or distribute a portion or portions of food or a beverage, as a host or hostess: It was her turn to serve at the faculty tea.
to render assistance; be of use; help.
to go through a term of service; do duty as a soldier, sailor, senator, juror, etc.
to have definite use: This cup will serve as a sugar bowl.
to answer the purpose: That will serve to explain my actions.
(in tennis, badminton, handball, etc.) to put the ball or shuttlecock in play with a stroke, swing, or hit.
to be favorable, suitable, or convenient, as weather or time.
Ecclesiastical. to act as a server.
verb (used with object), served, serving.
to be in the service of; work for.
to be useful or of service to; help.
to go through (a term of service, imprisonment, etc.).
to render active service to (a sovereign, commander, etc.).
to render obedience or homage to (God, a sovereign, etc.).
to perform the duties of (a position, an office, etc.): to serve his mayoralty.
to answer the requirements of; suffice: This will serve our needs for the moment.
to contribute to; promote: to serve a cause.
to wait upon at table; act as a waiter or waitress to.
to carry and distribute (portions of food or drink) to a patron or a specific table, as a waiter or waitress.
to act as a host or hostess in offering (a person) a portion of food or drink: May I serve you with some tea and cake?
to act as a host or hostess in offering or distributing (a portion or portions of food or drink) to another: They served tea and cake to their guests.
to provide with a regular or continuous supply of something.
(in tennis, badminton, handball, etc.) to put (the ball or shuttlecock) in play.
to treat in a specified manner: That served him ill.
to make legal delivery of (a process or writ).
to present (a person) with a writ.
to gratify (desire, wants, needs, etc.).
(of a male animal) to mate with; service.
to operate or keep in action (a gun, artillery, etc.).
Nautical. to wrap (a rope) tightly with small stuff, keeping the turns as close together as possible.
the act, manner, or right of serving, as in tennis.
serve one right, to treat one as one deserves, especially to punish justly: It will serve you right if she never speaks to you again.

1125–75; Middle English serven < Old French servir < Latin servīre, equivalent to serv(us) slave (cf. serf) + -īre infinitive suffix

servable, serveable, adjective
overserve, verb (used with object)
underserved, adjective
unservable, adjective
unserved, adjective
well-served, adjective

1, 2. attend. 5. aid, succor.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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World English Dictionary
serve (sɜːv)
vb (sometimes foll by up)
1.  to be in the service of (a person)
2.  to render or be of service to (a person, cause, etc); help
3.  (in a shop) to give (customers) information about articles for sale and to hand over articles purchased
4.  (tr) to provide (guests, customers, etc) with food, drink, etc: she served her guests with cocktails
5.  to distribute or provide (food, drink, etc) for guests, customers, etc: do you serve coffee?
6.  to present (food, drink, etc) in a specified manner: cauliflower served with cheese sauce
7.  (tr) to provide with a regular supply of
8.  (tr) to work actively for: to serve the government
9.  (tr) to pay homage to: to serve God
10.  to answer the requirements of; suit: this will serve my purpose
11.  (intr; may take an infinitive) to have a use; function: this wood will serve to build a fire
12.  to go through (a period of service, enlistment, imprisonment, etc)
13.  (intr) (of weather, conditions, etc) to be favourable or suitable
14.  (tr) Also: service (of a male animal) to copulate with (a female animal)
15.  sport to put (the ball) into play
16.  (intr) RC Church to act as server at Mass or other services
17.  (tr) to deliver (a legal document, esp a writ or summons) to (a person)
18.  to provide (a machine, etc) with an impulse or signal for control purposes or with a continuous supply of fuel, working material, etc
19.  (tr) nautical See also seize to bind (a rope, spar, etc) with wire or fine cord to protect it from chafing, etc
20.  informal serve a person right to pay a person back, esp for wrongful or foolish treatment or behaviour
21.  sport short for service
22.  (Austral) a portion or helping of food or drink
[C13: from Old French servir, from Latin servīre, from servus a slave]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

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 customer)" is first recorded mid-14c.; that of "to
set food on (a table)" is from late 14c. Sporting sense, in tennis, badminton, etc., first recorded 1585; the noun in this sense is from 1680s. To serve (someone) right "to treat as he deserves" is recorded from 1580s. To serve the time "shape one's views to what is in favor" is from 1550s, translating L. tempori servire; time-server first recorded 1580s.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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