Topic: TRADE

Date: 1100-1200
Language: Old French
Origin: servir, from Latin servire 'to be a slave, serve', from servus 'slave, servant', perhaps from Etruscan


1 verb
serve1 S1 W1


[intransitive and transitive] 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 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.

serve two/three/four etc (people)

if food serves two, three etc, there is enough for that number of people


[intransitive and transitive]BBT to help the customers in a shop, especially by bringing them the things that they want:
There was only one girl serving customers.

be useful/helpful

[intransitive and transitive] 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 somebody/something
research projects that serve the needs of industry

do useful work

[intransitive and transitive] 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

have an effect

[intransitive] formal to have a particular effect or result
serve 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.

provide something

[transitive usually passive] to provide an area or a group of people with something that is necessary or useful:
Paris is served by two airports.


[transitive]SCJ 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)?


[intransitive and 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 net

it serves somebody 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.'

serve an apprenticeship

BEC to learn a job or skill by working for a particular period of time for someone who has a lot of experience

serve a summons/writ etc

SCL 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 ↔ out

phrasal verb
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 British EnglishDF to put food onto plates:
Serve out the rice, will you?

serve something ↔ up

phrasal verb
DF to give food to someone as part of a meal:
What are you serving up tonight?

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