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English definition of “serve”

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serve

verb uk   /sɜːv/ us    /sɝːv/

serve verb (PROVIDE FOOD/DRINK)

A2 [I or T] to provide food or drinks: Do they serve meals in the bar? Breakfast is served in the restaurant between 7.00 and 9.00. We arrived at the hotel and were served with champagne and canapés. All recipes in this book, unless otherwise stated, will serve (= be enough for) four to five people. [+ obj + adj ] Serve the tarts hot with custard or whipped cream.
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serve verb (WORK)

C1 [I or T] to work for; to do your duty to: He served in the army in India for 22 years. She has served on the committee for the last 15 years. He served under Harold Wilson as Transport Minister.
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serve verb (HELP ACHIEVE)

C1 [I or T] to help achieve something or to be useful as something: The minister said she did not consider that a public enquiry would serve any useful purpose. The judge said that the fine would serve as a warning to other motorists who drove without due care. In the absence of anything better the settee would serve (= could be used) as a bed for a couple of nights. [+ to infinitive] Nothing serves to explain the violent fighting we have seen recently. old-fashioned My umbrella will serve for a weapon.
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serve verb (PROVIDE STH NECESSARY)

[T] to provide with something that is needed: London's hospitals, so says the report, are out of touch with the communities that they serve.
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serve verb (DEAL WITH CUSTOMER)

B1 [T] in a shop, restaurant, or hotel, to deal with a customer by taking their order, showing or selling them goods, etc.: Are you being served, madam? That's the restaurant where they refused to serve Giles because he was so rude.

serve verb (SPEND TIME)

C2 [T] to spend a period of time doing something: He served four years in prison for robbery. After he'd served his apprenticeship he found work overseas.serve time to spend time in prison: He's serving time for drugs offences.

serve verb (HIT BALL)

[I or T] in sports such as tennis, to hit the ball to the other player as a way of starting the game: Whose turn is it to serve? That's the third ace you've served this game.

serve verb (GIVE DOCUMENT)

[T] specialized law to give a legal document to someone, demanding that they go to a law court or that they obey an order: Less than two weeks ago Gough finally served a writ on Slater, claiming damages for alleged loss of royalties. Each person served with a summons will be given six weeks before they have to appear in the Magistrates' Court.

serve

noun [C] uk   /sɜːv/ us    /sɝːv/ ( also service)
in sports such as tennis, the act of hitting the ball to the other player to start play: It's your serve. She's got a very fast service.
(Definition of serve from the Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)
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