serve serve [sɜːv ǁ sɜːrv] verb
1. [transitive] COMMERCE to supply customers with a particular product or service or with something they need:

• The firm plans to open a London office to serve clients with investments and businesses in Europe.

• JAL Group airlines serve 208 airports in 35 countries and territories.

2. [intransitive, transitive] COMMERCE to give the customers in a shop, restaurant etc the things they want to buy:

• Free wine will be served on flights.

3. [intransitive, transitive] to spend a period of time doing a particular job, often an important one that helps the organization:

• If elected, she will serve a four-year term.

• He had to serve an apprenticeship (= a period of training ) with an accounting firm.

serve as

• He has proved to be valuable in several of the companies he has served as a board member.

4. serve a summons/​writ/​notice etc LAW to officially send or give someone a written order to appear in a court of law:
serve a summons/​writ/​notice etc on

• The manufacturing company served a writ on him after he failed to register the patent.

* * *

serve UK US /sɜːv/ verb
[T] to provide people 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 help achieve something or to be useful as something: serve to do sth »

The new procedures serve to stop economic growth.


The phone application needs 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 shop floor serving customers.


Are you being served?

[I or T] to provide food or drinks: »

He was served dinner in his room.


Breakfast is served between 7 and 9.

[I or T] to spend time 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 legal document to someone, demanding that they go to a court of law or that they obey an order: »

The pension trustees served a writ last Friday in New York.

serve sb with sth »

She was served with a summons to court.

Financial and business terms. 2012.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • Serve — Serve, v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Served}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Serving}.] [OE. serven, servien, OF. & F. servir, fr. L. servire; akin to servus a servant or slave, servare to protect, preserve, observe; cf. Zend har to protect, haurva protecting. Cf.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Serve — 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. [1913 Webster] The Lord shall give thee rest . . . from the hard bondage wherein thou… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Serve — may refer to: * Serve (tennis) * Secure Electronic Registration and Voting Experiment * Providing a non material good, as in the work of a servant * Supplying customers with food and drink, as in the work of a food server * Delivering a legal or… …   Wikipedia

  • serve — servable, serveable, adj. /serrv/, v., served, serving, n. v.i. 1. to act as a servant. 2. to wait on table, as a waiter. 3. to offer or have a meal or refreshments available, as for patrons or guests: Come early, we re serving at six. 4. to… …   Universalium

  • serve — I. verb (served; serving) Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo French servir, from Latin servire to be a slave, serve, from servus slave, servant Date: 13th century intransitive verb 1. a. to be a servant b. to do military or naval service …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • serve — 1. noun /səːv,sɝv/ a) the act of putting the ball or shuttlecock in play in various games Whose serve is it? b) A portion of food, a serving Syn: service …   Wiktionary

  • serve up — {v.} To prepare and serve (as a food). * /Father caught a trout and Mother served it up at dinner./ …   Dictionary of American idioms

  • serve up — {v.} To prepare and serve (as a food). * /Father caught a trout and Mother served it up at dinner./ …   Dictionary of American idioms

  • serve — See: FIRST COME, FIRST SERVED …   Dictionary of American idioms

  • Serve and volley — is a style of play in tennis where the player serving moves quickly towards the net after hitting a serve. The server then attempts to hit a volley (a shot where the ball is struck without allowing it to bounce), as opposed to the baseline style …   Wikipedia

  • Serve the People — or Service for the People (zh sp|s=为人民服务|p=wèi rénmín fúwù) is a political slogan which first appeared in Mao era China. It originates from the title of a speech by Mao Zedong, delivered on September 8, 1944. The concept of Serving the People ,… …   Wikipedia

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