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Serve

Serve appears in the following tongue twister:

  • Chill, Shake, Serve

Usage statistics for the verb serve:

spoken English25.76%written English74.24%
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The word serve is considered to be an easy one, according to the Dale-Chall word list, which includes 3000 words that all fourth-grade American students should know and understand.

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Definition of the noun serve

What does serve mean as a name of something?

noun - plural: serves

  1. (sports) a stroke that puts the ball in play

Alternative definition of the noun serve

noun

  1. [sports] the act of putting the ball or shuttlecock in play in various games
  2. [Australia] A portion of food, a serving

Specialised definition of the noun serve

Glossary of sports

in racket sports, to begin a point by launching the ball or shuttlecock towards an opponent (2006. Dictionary of Sport and Exercise Science. A&C Black Publishers Ltd)

in racket sports, an act of serving the ball or shuttlecock (2006. Dictionary of Sport and Exercise Science. A&C Black Publishers Ltd)

first play of the ball at the start of the game or to restart the game after a point is made; the serve represents the beginning of a new section of the game (table tennis, indiaca, fist ball, etc.). In each of the respective sport disciplines a wide range of technical variants has been developed which are meant to make it more difficult for the opponent to return the serve. (Herbert Haag & Gerald Haag. 2003. Dictionary. Sport, Physical Education, Sport Science. Kiel, Institut für Sport und Sportwissenschaften)

Glossary of sports / racquetball

the act of putting the ball in play to initiate a rally

Glossary of sports / table tennis

short for service

Glossary of sports / tennis

the opening shot of a point that puts the ball into play (2005. Chambers Sports Factfinder. Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd)

the shot that begin each point. Standing behind the baseline, the player must toss the ball into the air and hit it into the diagonally opposite service court. The server is given two chances to make a valid serve. A failure is called a fault and a double fault results in loss of the point. On the first point, the server must be to the right of the center line, and then alternates sides with each point. In singles, the players alternate service throughout a match. In doubles, service alternates between the sides, and all four players serve in turn

Definition of the verb serve

What does serve mean as a doing word?

Serve is one of the top 1000 most common verbs in the English language.View more statistics!

verb - inflections: served | serving | serves

  1. serve a purpose, role, or function
    • examples: 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
    • syntax:
      Syntactic formulaExample for the syntactic formula
      [Agent - being] [Verb] as [Predicate]Dina masqueraded as a lawyer
      [Agent - being] [Verb] [Predicate]They serve a restricted role on the bench
      [Agent - being] [Verb] in [Predicate]He had served in financial planning positions

      Verbs with Predicative Complements (with the same syntax): pose.

    • lexical domain: Stative - verbs of being, having, spatial relations
    • synonym of serve: function
    • more generic words: answer / do / suffice = be sufficient
    • more specific terms:
      • prelude = serve as a prelude or opening to
      • act as = function as or act like
  2. do duty or hold offices; serve in a specific function
    • examples: He served as head of the department for three years | She served in Congress for two terms
    • syntax: the same syntax as for the sense 1
    • lexical domain: Competition - verbs of fighting, athletic activities
    • more generic terms: do work / work = be employed
    • more specific words:
      • sit = serve in a specific professional capacity
      • staff = serve on the staff of
      • act = discharge one's duties
      • rotate = perform a job or duty on a rotating basis
      • officiate / function = perform duties attached to a particular office or place or function
      • caddie / caddy = act as a caddie and carry clubs for a player
      • represent = be a delegate or spokesperson for
  3. contribute or conduce to
    • example: The scandal served to increase his popularity
    • lexical domain: Stative - verbs of being, having, spatial relations
    • more generic terms: effect / effectuate / set up = produce
    • more specific words: facilitate / help = be of use
  4. be used by; as of a utility
    • examples: The sewage plant served the neighboring communities | The garage served to shelter his horses
    • syntax:
      Syntactic formulaExample for the syntactic formula
      [Agent - being] [Verb] [Value] in [Location]We sleep five people in each room
      [Location] [Verb] [Value]Each room sleeps five people

      Measure Verbs (with the same syntax): carry, contain, feed, fit, hibernate, hold, house, seat, sleep, store, take, use.

    • lexical domain: Activities - verbs of political and social activities and events
    • synonym of serve: service
    • more generic words: function / go / operate / run / work = perform as expected when applied
  5. help to some food; help with food or drink
    • examples: I served him three times, and after that he helped himself | Sam cannot serve Sue
    • syntax:
      Syntactic formulaExample for the syntactic formula
      [Agent - being or organization] [Verb] [Recipient]He reimbursed members | Hess supplied its customers
      [Agent - being or organization] [Verb] [Recipient] with [Theme]Brown presented Jones with a plaque
      [Agent - being or organization] [Verb] [Theme]Brown presented the plaque
      [Agent - being or organization] [Verb] [Theme] to [Recipient]Brown presented a plaque to Jones | They lent a bicycle to me | We contributed our paycheck to her

      Verbs of Change of Possession (with the same syntax): credit, entrust, furnish, supply.

    • lexical domain: Consumption - verbs of eating and drinking
    • synonym of serve: help
    • more generic words: cater / ply / provide / supply = give what is desired or needed, especially support, food or sustenance
  6. provide (usually but not necessarily food)
    • examples: We serve meals for the homeless | The entertainers served up a lively show | The chefs serve the vegetables
    • syntax: the same syntax as for the sense 5
    • lexical domain: Consumption - verbs of eating and drinking
    • synonyms of serve: dish / dish out / dish up / serve up
    • more generic words: cater / ply / provide / supply = give what is desired or needed, especially support, food or sustenance
    • more specific word: plank = cook and serve on a plank
  7. devote (part of) one's life or efforts to, as of countries, institutions, or ideas
    • examples: She served the art of music | He served the church | serve the country
    • lexical domain: Activities - verbs of political and social activities and events
    • more generic word: work = exert oneself by doing mental or physical work for a purpose or out of necessity
  8. promote, benefit, or be useful or beneficial to
    • examples: Art serves commerce | Their interests are served | The lake serves recreation | The President's wisdom has served the country well
    • syntax:
      Syntactic formulaExample for the syntactic formula
      [Agent - being or organization] [Verb] [Theme]I misspent 5 hours

      Verbs of Spending Time (with the same syntax): misspend, pass.

    • lexical domain: Stative - verbs of being, having, spatial relations
    • synonym of serve: serve well
    • more generic words: foster / nurture = help develop, help grow
  9. spend time in prison or in a labor camp
    • syntax: the same syntax as for the sense 8
    • lexical domain: Stative - verbs of being, having, spatial relations
    • synonym of serve: do
    • more generic words: pass / spend = use up a period of time in a specific way
    • more specific word: admit = serve as a means of entrance
  10. work for or be a servant to
    • examples: May I serve you? | The minister served the King for many years | Sam cannot serve Sue
    • lexical domain: Activities - verbs of political and social activities and events
    • synonyms of serve: assist / attend / attend to / wait on
    • more generic words: aid / assist / help = give help or assistance
    • more specific words:
      • valet = serve as a personal attendant to
      • fag = act as a servant for older boys, in British public schools
  11. deliver a warrant or summons to someone
    • syntax: the same syntax as for the sense 5
    • lexical domain: Contact - verbs of touching, hitting, tying, digging
    • synonyms of serve: process / swear out
    • more generic word: deliver = bring to a destination, make a delivery
    • more specific words:
      • subpoena = serve or summon with a subpoena
      • rinse / wash = clean with some chemical process
  12. be sufficient; be adequate, either in quality or quantity
  13. do military service
    • examples: She served in Vietnam | My sons never served, because they are short-sighted
    • lexical domain: Activities - verbs of political and social activities and events
    • more generic terms: do work / work = be employed
  14. mate with
    • example: male animals serve the females for breeding purposes
    • lexical domain: Contact - verbs of touching, hitting, tying, digging
    • synonym of serve: service
    • more generic words: copulate / couple / mate / pair = engage in sexual intercourse
    • more specific word: stand = be available for stud services
  15. put the ball into play
    • example: It was Agassi's turn to serve
    • domain: court game
    • lexical domain: Competition - verbs of fighting, athletic activities
    • more generic words: go / move = have a turn
    • more specific word: ace = serve an ace against

Alternative definition of the verb serve

verb

  1. [transitive] To be a formal servant for (a god or deity); to worship in an official capacity. [definition from 12th c.]
  2. [transitive] To be a servant for; to work for, to be employed by. [definition from 13th c.]
  3. [transitive] To wait upon (someone) at table; to set food and drink in front of, to help (someone) to food, meals etc. [definition from 13th c.]
  4. [transitive, archaic] To treat (someone) in a given manner. [definition from 13th c.]
  5. [intransitive] To be a servant or worker; to perform the duties of a servant or employee; to render service. [definition from 14th c.]
  6. [transitive, archaic] To be suitor to; to be the lover of. [definition from 14th c.]
  7. [transitive] To be useful to; to meet the needs of. [definition from 14th c.]
  8. [intransitive] To have a given use or purpose; to function [term, for] something or to do something. [definition from 14th c.]
  9. [intransitive] To usefully take the place [term, as] [term, instead] of something else. [definition from 14th c.]
  10. [transitive] To set down (food or drink) on the table to be eaten; to bring (food, drink) to a person. [definition from 15th c.]
  11. [transitive, legal] To officially deliver (a legal notice, summons etc.). [definition from 15th c.]
  12. [transitive, legal] To make legal service upon (a person named in a writ, summons, etc.)
  13. [intransitive] To be in military service. [definition from 16th c.]
  14. [transitive, intransitive, sports] To lead off with the first delivery over the net in tennis, volleyball, ping pong, badminton etc. [definition from 16th c.]
  15. [transitive] To copulate with (of male animals); to cover. [definition from 16th c.]
  16. [transitive, military] To work, to operate (a weapon). [definition from 18th c.]
  17. [transitive] To work through (a given period of time in prison, a sentence). [definition from 19th c.]

Explanation

  1. Serve: A serve in tennis is a shot to start a point. A player will hit the ball with a racquet so it will fall into the diagonally opposite backside box without being stopped by the net. Normally players begin a serve by tossing the ball into the air and hitting it. The ball can only touch the net on a return and will be considered good if it falls on the opposite side. If the ball contacts the net on the serve but then proceeds to the proper backside box, it is called a let; this is not a legal serve in the major tours although it is also not a fault. Players typically serve overhead, but serving underhand, although rare, is allowed. The serve is the only shot a player can take their time to set up instead of having to react to an opponent's shot.
    • also known as 网球发球
  2. Serve is an online payment system similar to PayPal introduced on March 28, 2011. The service is provided by American Express and available at serve.com. The service allows users to transfer money to other users, shop online, and shop in stores with a card. The card is accepted at all AMEX locations. Card members can also use their cards to withdraw money from ATMs. Currently, Serve is only available to residents of the United States.

Phrases with Serve

Phrases starting with the word Serve:

  1. serve up
  2. Serve Out
  3. serve time
  4. serve well
  5. Serve Somebody Right

Phrases ending with the word Serve:

  1. On Serve
  2. to serve
  3. self-serve
  4. Soft serve
  5. Second Serve
  6. break of serve
  7. drop one's serve
  8. Hold One's Serve
  9. first-come-first-serve

Other phrases containing the word Serve:

  1. to serve up
  2. To Serve Out

Printed dictionaries and other books with definitions for Serve

Click on a title to look inside that book (if available):

Google previewRacquetball

Steps to Success

A short serve is any served ball that hits the front wall first and, on the rebound, hits the floor on or in front of the short line. q...

Google previewDictionary of the Political Thought of the People's Republic of China (2016)

by Henry He

See "wenyi wei zhengzhi fuwu" (literature and art serve politics). wenyi weigong nong bing fuwu (literature and art serve workers, peasants, and soldiers) See " wenyi wei zhengzhi fuwu" (literature and art serve politics). iMK wenyi wei renmin ...

Google previewThe Grilling Encyclopedia (1994)

An A-to-Z Compendium of how to Grill Almost Anything

Serve on crusty French rolls with tomato slices and shredded lettuce moistened with a little vinaigrette. Indian style: Curry powder, powdered ginger, finely chopped onions. Serve in warm pita bread with plain yogurt, chopped fresh cilantro, ...

Online dictionaries and encyclopedias with entries for Serve

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Usage statistics about serve

The following statistics are based on the British National Corpus, so they are representative for the British English from the later part of the 20th century, both spoken and written.

Usage statistics for the verb serve:

spoken English25.76%written English74.24% imaginative writing33.33%informational writing66.67%

Distribution of usage frequency for the most common synonyms of the noun serve:

serveservice

Distribution of usage frequency for the most common synonyms of the verb serve:

dishsufficeservicefunctionprocessassistattendanswerservehelpdo

Photos about Serve

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serve

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Small photo of White rice, cucumber and salt egg served on plate. This menu is serve with Malay food called Asam PedasSmall photo of Fried chicken served on plate. This menu is serve with Malay food called Asam Pedas More...

Video language resources about Serve

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View more videos about On Serve, Serve Up, To Serve, Serve Out, Self Serve, serve time, and Soft serve.

See also the pronunciation examples of Serve!

Sign language

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Quotes about Serve

You've got people who didn't serve with John Kerry saying they did serve with John Kerry in the boat. With George Bush, we can't find anybody who did serve with him. (Mark Shields)
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Scrabble value of S1E1R1V4E1

The value of this 5-letter word is 8 points. It is included in the first and second editions of the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary.

Anagrams of SERVE

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