Definition for SERVE

SERVE, v.t. [serv; Fr. servir; It. servire; Sp. servir; from L. servio. This verb is supposed to be from the noun servus, a servant or slave, and this from servo, to keep. If servus originally was a slave, he was probably so named from being preserved and taken prisoner in war, or more probably from being bound, and perhaps from the Shemitic צור, צרר, to bind. But the sense of servant is generally a waiter, one who attends or waits, and from the sense of stopping, holding, remaining.]

  1. To work for; to bestow the labor of body and mind in the employment of another. Jacob loved Rachel and said, I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter. – Gen. xxix. No man can serve two masters. – Matth. vi.
  2. To act as the minister of; to perform official duties to; as, a minister serves his prince. Had I served God as diligently as I have served the king, he would not have given me over in my gray hairs. – Cardinal Wolsey.
  3. To attend at command; to wait on. A goddess among gods, ador'd and serv'd / By angels numberless, thy daily train. – Milton.
  4. To obey servilely or meanly. Be not to wealth a servant. – Denham.
  5. To supply with food; as, to be served in plate. – Dryden.
  6. To be subservient or subordinate to. Bodies bright and greater should not serve / The less not bright. – Milton.
  7. To perform the duties required in; as, the curate served churches.
  8. To obey; to perform duties in the employment of; as, to serve the king or the country in the army or navy.
  9. To be sufficient to, or to promote; as, to serve one's turn, end or purpose. – Locke.
  10. To help by good offices; as, to serve one's country. – Tate.
  11. To comply with; to submit to. They think herein we serve the time, because thereby we either hold or seek preferment. – Hooker.
  12. To be sufficient for; to satisfy; to content. One half pint bottle serves them both to dine, / And is at once their vinegar and wine. – Pope.
  13. To be in the place of any thing to one. A sofa serves the Turks for a seat and a couch.
  14. To treat; to requite; as, he served me ungratefully; he served me very ill. We say also, he served me a trick, that is, he deceived me, or practiced an artifice upon me.
  15. In Scripture and theology, to obey and worship; to act in conformity to the law of a superior, and treat him with due reverence. Fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and truth. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. – Josh. xxiv.
  16. In a bad sense, to obey; to yield compliance or act according to. Serving, divers lusts and pleasures. – Tit. iii.
  17. To worship; to render homage to; as, to serve idols or false gods. – Ezek. xx.
  18. To be a slave to; to be in bondage to. – Gen. xv.
  19. To serve one's self of, to use; to make use of; a Gallicism, [se servir de.] I will serve myself of this concession. – Chillingworth.
  20. To use; to manage; to apply. The guns were well served.
  21. In seamen's language, to wind something round a rope to prevent friction. To serve up, to prepare and present in a dish; as, to serve up a sirloin of beef in plate; figuratively, to prepare. To serve in, as used by Shakspeare, for to bring in, as meat by an attendant, I have never known to be used in America. To serve out, to distribute in portions; as, to serve out provisions to soldiers. To serve a writ, to read it to the defendant; or to leave an attested copy at his usual place of abode. To serve an attachment, or writ of attachment, to levy it on the person or goods by seizure; or to seize. To serve an execution, to levy it on lands, goods, or person by seizure or taking possession. To serve a warrant, to read it, and to seize the person against whom it is issued. In general, to serve a process, is to read it so as to give due notice to the party concerned, or to leave an attested copy with him or his attorney, or at his usual place of abode. To serve an office, to discharge a public duty. [This phrase, I believe, is not used in America. We say, a man serves in an office, that is, serves the public in an office.]

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