Serve v. t. [imp. & p. p. Served p. pr. & vb. n. Serving.]
1. To work for; to labor in behalf of; to exert one's self continuously or statedly for the benefit of; to do service for; to be in the employment of, as an inferior, domestic, serf, slave, hired assistant, official helper, etc.; specifically, in a religious sense, to obey and worship.
God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit. --Rom. i. 9.
Jacob loved Rachel; and said, I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter. --Gen. xxix. 18.
No man can serve two masters. --Matt. vi. 24.
Had I but served my God with half the zeal
I served my king, he would not in mine age
Have left me naked to mine enemies. --Shak.
2. To be subordinate to; to act a secondary part under; to appear as the inferior of; to minister to.
Bodies bright and greater should not serve
The less not bright. --Milton.
3. To be suitor to; to profess love to. [Obs.]
To serve a lady in his beste wise. --Chaucer.
4. To wait upon; to supply the wants of; to attend; specifically, to wait upon at table; to attend at meals; to supply with food; as, to serve customers in a shop.
Others, pampered in their shameless pride,
Are served in plate and in their chariots ride. --Dryden.
5. Hence, to bring forward, arrange, deal, or distribute, as a portion of anything, especially of food prepared for eating; -- often with up; formerly with in.
Bid them cover the table, serve in the meat, and we will come in to dinner. --Shak.
Some part he roasts, then serves it up so dressed. --Dryde.
6. To perform the duties belonging to, or required in or for; hence, to be of use to; as, a curate may serve two churches; to serve one's country.
7. To contribute or conduce to; to promote; to be sufficient for; to satisfy; as, to serve one's turn.
Turn it into some advantage, by observing where it can serve another end. --Jer. Taylor.
8. To answer or be (in the place of something) to; as, a sofa serves one for a seat and a couch.
9. To treat; to behave one's self to; to requite; to act toward; as, he served me very ill.
10. To work; to operate; as, to serve the guns.
11. Law (a) To bring to notice, deliver, or execute, either actually or constructively, in such manner as the law requires; as, to serve a summons. (b) To make legal service opon (a person named in a writ, summons, etc.); as, to serve a witness with a subpœna.
12. To pass or spend, as time, esp. time of punishment; as, to serve a term in prison.
13. To copulate with; to cover; as, a horse serves a mare; -- said of the male.
14. Tennis To lead off in delivering (the ball).
15. Naut. To wind spun yarn, or the like, tightly around (a rope or cable, etc.) so as to protect it from chafing or from the weather. See under Serving.
To serve an attachment or To serve a writ of attachment Law, to levy it on the person or goods by seizure, or to seize.
To serve an execution Law, to levy it on a lands, goods, or person, by seizure or taking possession.
To serve an office, to discharge a public duty.
To serve a process Law, in general, to read it, so as to give due notice to the party concerned, or to leave an attested copy with him or his attorney, or his usual place of abode.
To serve a warrant, to read it, and seize the person against whom it is issued.
To serve a writ Law, to read it to the defendant, or to leave an attested copy at his usual place of abode.
To serve one out, to retaliate upon; to requite. “I'll serve you out for this.” --C. Kingsley.
To serve one right, to treat, or cause to befall one, according to his deserts; -- used commonly of ill deserts; as, it serves the scoundrel right.
To serve one's self of, to avail one's self of; to make use of. [A Gallicism]
I will serve myself of this concession. --Chillingworth.
To serve out, to distribute; as, to serve out rations.
To serve the time or To serve the hour, to regulate one's actions by the requirements of the time instead of by one's duty; to be a timeserver. [Obs.]
They think herein we serve the time, because thereby we either hold or seek preferment. --Hooker.
Syn: -- To obey; minister to; subserve; promote; aid; help; assist; benefit; succor.
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.
The Lord shall give thee rest . . . from the hard bondage wherein thou wast made to serve. --Isa. xiv. 3.
2. To perform domestic offices; to be occupied with household affairs; to prepare and dish up food, etc.
But Martha . . . said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? --Luke x. 40.
3. To be in service; to do duty; to discharge the requirements of an office or employment. Specifically, to act in the public service, as a soldier, seaman. etc.
Many . . . who had before been great commanders, but now served as private gentlemen without pay. --Knolles.
4. To be of use; to answer a purpose; to suffice; to suit; to be convenient or favorable.
This little brand will serve to light your fire. --Dryden.
As occasion serves, this noble queen
And prince shall follow with a fresh supply. --Shak.
5. Tennis To lead off in delivering the ball.
n : (sports) a stroke that puts the ball in play; "his powerful
serves won the game" [syn: service]
v 1: serve a purpose, role, or function; "The tree stump serves
as a table"; "The female students served as a control
group"; "This table would serve very well"; "His freedom
served him well"; "The table functions as a desk" [syn:
2: do duty or hold offices; serve in a specific function; "He
served as head of the department for three years"; "She
served in Congress for two terms"
3: contribute or conduce to; "The scandal served to increase
4: be used by; as of a utility; "The sewage plant served the
neighboring communities"; "The garage served to shelter
his horses" [syn: service]
5: help to some food; help with food or drink; "I served him
three times, and after that he helped himself" [syn: help]
6: provide (usually but not necessarily food); "We serve meals
for the homeless"; "She dished out the soup at 8 P.M.";
"The entertainers served up a lively show" [syn: serve up,
dish out, dish up, dish]
7: devote (part of) one's life or efforts to, as of countries,
institutions, or ideas; "She served the art of music"; "He
served the church"; "serve the country"
8: promote, benefit, or be useful or beneficial to; "Art serves
commerce"; "Their interests are served"; "The lake serves
recreation"; "The President's wisdom has served the
counrty well" [syn: serve well]
9: spend time in prison or in a labor camp; "He did six years
for embezzlement" [syn: do]
10: work for or be a servant to; "May I serve you?"; "She
attends the old lady in the wheelchair"; "Can you wait on
our table, please?"; "Is a salesperson assisting you?";
"The minister served the King for many years" [syn: attend
to, wait on, attend, assist]
11: deliver a warrant or summons to someone; "He was processed
by the sheriff" [syn: process, swear out]
12: be sufficient; be adequate, either in quality or quantity;
"A few words would answer"; "This car suits my purpose
well"; "Will $100 do?"; "A 'B' grade doesn't suffice to
get me into medical school"; "Nothing else will serve"
[syn: suffice, do, answer]
13: do military service; "She served in Vietnam"; "My sons never
served, because they are short-sighted"
14: mate with; "male animals serve the females for breeding
purposes" [syn: service]
15: put the ball into play; "It was Agassi's turn to serve"