Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French servir, from Latin servire to be a slave, serve, from servus slave, servant
Date: 13th century
a. to be a servant
b. to do military or naval service
2. to assist a celebrant as server at mass
a. to be of use <in a day when few people could write, seals served as signatures — Elizabeth W. King> b. to be favorable, opportune, or convenient c. to be worthy of reliance or trust <if memory serves> d. to hold an office ; discharge a duty or function <serve on a jury> 4. to prove adequate or satisfactory ; suffice <it will serve for this task> 5. to help persons to food: as a. to wait at table b. to set out portions of food or drink 6. to wait on customers 7. to put the ball or shuttlecock in play in various games (as tennis, volleyball, or badminton) transitive verb 1. a. to be a servant to ; attend b. to give the service and respect due to (a superior) c. to comply with the commands or demands of ; gratify d. to give military or naval service to e. to perform the duties of (an office or post) 2. to act as server at (mass) 3. archaic to pay a lover's or suitor's court to (a lady) <that gentle lady, whom I love and serve — Edmund Spenser> 4. a. to work through (a term of service) b. to put in (a term of imprisonment) 5. a. to wait on at table b. to bring (food) to a diner c. present, provide — usually used with up <the novel served up many laughs> 6. a. to furnish or supply with something needed or desired b. to wait on (a customer) in a store c. to furnish professional service to 7. a. to answer the needs of b. to be enough for ; suffice c. to contribute or conduce to ; promote 8. to treat or act toward in a specified way <he served me ill> 9. a. to bring to notice, deliver, or execute as required by law b. to make legal service upon (a person named in a process) 10. of a male animal to copulate with 11. to wind yarn or wire tightly around (a rope or stay) for protection 12. to provide services that benefit or help 13. to put (the ball or shuttlecock) in play (as in tennis or badminton) II. noun Date: 1688 the act or action of putting the ball or shuttlecock in play in various games (as volleyball, badminton, or tennis); also a turn to serve <it's your serve>
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.