From Longman Dictionary of Contemporary Englishserveserve1 /sɜːv $ sɜːrv/ ●●● S1 W1 verb 1 food/drink [intransitive, transitive]GIVE 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 something with something Serve the soup with crusty bread.serve breakfast/lunch/dinner Breakfast is served until 9 am.serve something to somebody Meals can be served to you in your room.serve something hot/cold etc Teacakes should be served hot with butter.2 → serve two/three/four etc (people)3 shop [intransitive, transitive]BBTSELL 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 [intransitive, transitive]USEFUL to be useful or helpful for a particular purpose or reasonserve 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 somebody/something research projects that serve the needs of industry5 do useful work [intransitive, transitive]SPEND TIME to spend a period of time doing useful work or official duties for an organization, country, important person etcserve 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 war6 have an effect [intransitive] formalUSE something to have a particular effect or resultserve as Her death should serve as a warning to other young people.serve to do something A single example serves to illustrate what I mean. 7 provide something [transitive]PROVIDE to provide an area or a group of people with something that is necessary or useful Paris is served by two airports. Grammar Serve is usually passive in this meaning.8 prison [transitive]SCJPRISON to spend a particular period of time in prison He served an 18-month sentence for theft. Did you know that Les is serving time
(=is in prison)?9 sport [intransitive, transitive]DS to start playing in a game such as tennis or volleyball by throwing the ball up in the air and hitting it over the net10 → it serves somebody right11 → serve an apprenticeship12 → serve a summons/writ etc → if my memory serves me (right/well/correctly) at memory(1) → serve something ↔ out → serve something ↔ up→ See Verb table
Examples from the Corpusserve• The airline now serves 37 cities.• Light refreshments will be served.• Keep warm until ready to serve.• Estrada was serving a customer when the fire started.• Smith has already served a ten-year sentence for armed robbery.• School board members serve a two-year term.• It is illegal to serve alcoholic drinks to anyone under 18.• The nine-member panel of bishops serving as judges is expected to rule any day on the Righter case.• Dinner will be served at 8.30.• Andrew, will you serve coffee to the visitors?• Holt is currently serving five years for child abduction.• Reagan was serving his second term as President at the time.• Place a brioche heart or circle on top of each one, sift over the icing sugar, if using, and serve immediately.• The chef serves important guests himself.• On the other, persons who serve prison sentences need to be able to get a job and participate in society.• He served the community for over thirty years as a head teacher.• Don't forget to serve the guests first.• The center was opened four months ago to serve the health needs of a low-income neighborhood.• The new bus route will serve the villages to the west of York.• So what is the management serving the young hipsters who crowd this bar even on a weeknight?• Both the brothers had criminal records and had served time for robbery.• She met Schmidt while serving time in prison for drug possession.• Fowler was released after serving two-thirds of his sentence.• Nevertheless, by posing questions rather than serving up morals, he's caught some flak from simple-minded gay critics.• As soon as they sat down they were served with steaming bowls of soup.• But David volunteered to serve with Total Tartary.• Please fill out this questionnaire so that we may better serve you.serve something with something• I'm planning to serve the chicken with a light cream sauce.serving customers• Lower earnings have, in turn, forced many stores to be less generous in serving customers.• She did nothing to help but constantly chivvied the girls and interfered when they were serving customers.• Rashid and Shahid cooked up the idea while serving customers at the Sitar in Northgate, Darlington.• The woman in the grey overall serving customers looked just like anyone else.• She could almost be happy when she was serving customers or, better still, changing the window display.• Although Alice was slower than others in serving customers, she was never late and seldom absent.serve as• The old hospital in London Road now serves as a hostel for the homeless.• They had no bathroom, so a hole in the ground served as a toilet.• Powell served as deputy national security adviser for Reagan.serve on• LaSuer has served on the city transit board for six years.serve as a warning• And its spectacular fall from grace should serve as a warning.• The tail is vibrated and shaken against rocks when the snake is irritated or alarmed and serves as a warning.• It should also serve as a warning against using the concept of social class in a crude explanatory manner.• His larger-than-life statue with its slightly oriental cast of features serves as a warning that you are approaching the junk food area.• The judge said the long sentence should serve as a warning to others tempted to join the illegal trade in exotic birds.served ... sentence• But his lifestyle has lead to court appearances on drug and driving offences and he's served two jail sentences.• By the time he was released he had already served half his sentence.• Yerkes had been an embezzler in the United States and had served a prison sentence.• Police have launched a nationwide hunt for Moore, who has served a jail sentence for armed robbery.• Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Dean and others served prison sentences for conspiracy and obstruction of justice.• Proscribed as a member of illegal organizations, she served two gaol sentences in Mountjoy and Cork.• He had already served a prison sentence in New Zealand.• They were convicted in 1976 and served sentences ranging from four to 14 years with one dying in prison.