|Origin:||servir, from Latin servire 'to be a slave, serve', from servus 'slave, servant', perhaps from Etruscan|
serve1 S1 W1
to give someone food or drink, especially as part of a meal or in a restaurant, bar etc:
food/drink[intransitive and transitive]
The waiter was serving another table.
Sprinkle with cheese and serve immediately.
serve something with something
Serve the soup with crusty bread.
Breakfast is served until 9 a.m.
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.
if food serves two, three etc, there is enough for that number of people
to help the customers in a shop, especially by bringing them the things that they want:
shop[intransitive and transitive]BBT
There was only one girl serving customers.
to be useful or helpful for a particular purpose or reason
be useful/helpful[intransitive and transitive]
The sofa had to serve as a bed.
The reforms served as a model for the rest of the Communist world.
serve the needs/interests of somebody/something
research projects that serve the needs of industry
to spend a period of time doing useful work or official duties for an organization, country, important person etc
do useful work[intransitive and transitive]
Lord Herbert served as ambassador to France.
serve in the army/air force/navy etc
He returned to Greece to serve in the army.
Ann serves on various local committees.
the women who served their country in the war
to have a particular effect or result
have an effect[intransitive] formal
Her death should serve as a warning to other young people.
serve to do something
A single example serves to illustrate what I mean.
to provide an area or a group of people with something that is necessary or useful:
provide something[transitive usually passive]
Paris is served by two airports.
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)?
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
sport[intransitive and transitive]DS
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.'
to learn a job or skill by working for a particular period of time for someone who has a lot of experience
to officially send or give someone a written order to appear in a court of law
➔ if my memory serves me (right/well/correctly)at memory (1)
serve something ↔ outphrasal verb
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 British EnglishDF
to put food onto plates:
Serve out the rice, will you?
serve something ↔ upphrasal verb
to give food to someone as part of a meal:
What are you serving up tonight?