serve Definition in the Cambridge English Dictionary Cambridge dictionaries logo

Definition of “serve” - English Dictionary

"serve" in American English

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serveverb

 us   /sɜrv/
  • serve verb (HELP)

[I/T] (esp. of a ​personworking in a ​restaurant or ​store) to ​help a ​customer by getting what someone ​needs or by ​showing or ​sellinggoods, or to ​providefood or ​drinks to a ​customer or ​guest: [T] We’ve been in the ​restaurant for ​half an ​hour and we’re still ​waiting to be served. [T] Breakfast is served between seven and nine every ​morning. [I/T] We’ll be ​ready to serve (​lunch) ​soon. [I/T] To serve is also to ​provide an ​area or ​group of ​people with something that is ​needed: [T] As ​long as I am ​yourrepresentative, I will ​continue to serve the ​needs of this ​community.
  • serve verb (WORK)

[I/T] to ​work for, or to ​carry out ​your duty: [I] He served in the US Navy for twelve ​years. [T] If ​memory serves me ​right (= If I am ​rememberingcorrectly), I was 13 at the ​time.
  • serve verb (SPEND TIME)

[T] to ​spend a ​period of ​time in a ​job or ​activity: He served three ​terms in the ​senate.
  • serve verb (HELP ACHIEVE)

[I/T] to ​helpachieve something, or to be ​useful as something: [+ to infinitive] Tougher ​prisonsentences, he said, will serve to ​detercrime. [I] The ​sofa can serve as (= be used as) a ​bed for a ​couple of ​nights.
  • serve verb (HIT BALL)

[I/T] (in ​tennis and other ​sports) to ​hit the ​ball to the other ​player or ​team as a way of ​startingplay

servenoun [C]

 /sɜrv/
  • serve noun [C] (HITTING BALL)

(in ​tennis and other ​sports) the ​act of ​hitting the ​ball to the other ​player or ​team to ​startplay : He's got a ​powerful serve.
(Definition of serve from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)







"serve" in British English

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serveverb

uk   /sɜːv/  us   /sɝːv/
  • serve verb (PROVIDE FOOD/DRINK)

A2 [I or T] to ​providefood or ​drinks: Do they serve ​meals in the ​bar? Breakfast is served in the ​restaurant between 7.00 and 11.00. We ​arrived at the ​hotel and were served withchampagne and ​canapés. All ​recipes in this ​book, ​unlessotherwisestated, will serve (= be enough for) four to five ​people. [+ obj + adj ] Serve the ​piewarm withicecream or ​whippedcream.

expend iconexpend iconMore examples

  • serve verb (WORK)

C1 [I or T] to ​work for; to do ​yourduty to: He served in the ​army for 22 ​years. She has served on the ​committee for the last 15 ​years. He served under Ronald Reagan as ​Secretary of State.

expend iconexpend iconMore examples

  • serve verb (HELP ACHIEVE)

C1 [I or T] to ​helpachieve something or to be ​useful as something: An ​officialinvestigation would not serve any ​useful purpose. The ​judge said that the ​fine would serve as a ​warning to other ​drivers. In the ​absence of anything ​better the ​settee could serve as a ​bed for a ​couple of ​nights. [+ to infinitive] Nothing serves toexplain the ​violentfighting we have ​seenrecently.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: The ​report says the ​police 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 ​theirorder, ​showing or ​selling them ​goods, etc.: UK Are you being served, ​madam?US Have you been served, ma'am? That's the ​restaurant where they ​refused to serve John because he was so ​rude.
  • 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 ​legaldocument to someone, ​demanding that they go to a ​lawcourt or that they ​obey an ​order: Less than two ​weeks ago Gough ​finally served a ​writ on Slater, ​claimingdamages for ​allegedloss of ​royalties. Each ​person served with a ​summons will be given six ​weeks before they have to ​appear in the Magistrates' ​Court.

servenoun [C]

uk   /sɜːv/  us   /sɝːv/ (also service)
in ​sports such as ​tennis, the ​act of ​hitting the ​ball to the other ​player to ​startplay: It's ​your serve. Murray broke Federer's serve (= he ​won a ​game in which Federer ​hit the ​ball first).
(Definition of serve from the Cambridge Advanced Learners Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"serve" in Business English

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serveverb

uk   us   /sɜːv/
[T] to ​providepeople or a ​place with ​products or ​services or something that is needed: serve ​customers/​clients There is a new ​24-hour bus that serves the ​airport.
[I or T] to ​helpachieve something or to be useful as something: serve to do sth The new ​procedures serve to ​stopeconomicgrowth. The ​phoneapplicationneeds to serve a ​purpose.
[T] COMMERCE in a ​shop, ​restaurant, or ​hotel, to ​deal with a ​customer by taking their ​order, showing or ​selling them ​goods, etc.: She ​spends all day on the ​shopfloor serving ​customers. Are you being served?
[I or T] to ​providefood or drinks: He was served dinner in his ​room. Breakfast is served between 7 and 9.
[I or T] to ​spendtime doing a ​job, ​training for a ​job, or having a ​responsibility: serve as sth He became a city ​commissioner and went on to serve as mayor. After serving an ​apprenticeship with his father, he received a scholarship to ​study in Italy.
[T] LAW to give a ​legaldocument to someone, ​demanding that they go to a ​court of ​law or that they obey an ​order: The ​pensiontrustees served a ​writ last Friday in New York.serve sb with sth She was served with a ​summons to ​court.
Phrasal verbs
(Definition of serve from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)
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“serve” in Business English

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