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ser·vice (sûrvĭs)
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n.
1.
a. Work that is done for others as an occupation or business: has done service for us as a consultant.
b. The performance of work or duties for a superior or as a servant: found the butler's service to be excellent.
c. An act or a variety of work done for others, especially for pay: offers a superior service to that of his competitors; provides full catering services.
2.
a. Assistance; help: was of great service to him during his illness.
b. An act of assistance or benefit; a favor: My friend did me a service in fixing the door.
3.
a. The serving of food or the manner in which it is served: The service was good, but the food was lousy.
b. A set of dishes or utensils: a silver tea service.
4.
a. Employment in duties or work for another, as for a government: has been in the company's service for 15 years.
b. A government branch or department and its employees: the diplomatic service.
c. A department or branch of a hospital staff that provides specified patient care: the anesthesiology service.
5.
a. The armed forces of a nation: joined the service right after college.
b. A branch of the armed forces of a nation.
6.
a. The installation, maintenance, or repairs provided or guaranteed by a dealer or manufacturer: a dealer with full parts and service.
b. The provision to the public of something, especially a utility: a town without sewer service.
c. The system or equipment used to provide something to the public: The electrical service was damaged in the storm.
7. Sports
a. The right of serving in many court games.
b. A serve: Her first service hit the net.
8. A religious rite or formal ceremony: held services in the evening; a memorial service.
9. Copulation with a female animal. Used of male animals, especially studs.
10. Law The serving of a legal process, such as a summons or court order.
11. The material, such as cord, used in binding or wrapping rope.
12. An answering service.
tr.v. ser·viced, ser·vic·ing, ser·vic·es
1. To make fit for use; adjust, repair, or maintain: service a car.
2. To provide services to: That cable company services most households in the area.
3. To make interest payments on (a debt).
4.
a. To copulate with (a female animal). Used of a male animal, especially studs.
b. Slang To have sex with.
adj.
1. Of or relating to the armed forces of a country.
2. Intended for use in supplying or serving: a service elevator; the service entrance.
3. Offering repairs or maintenance: a service guarantee; a road service area.
4. Offering services to the public in response to need or demand: a service industry.
Idioms:
at (someone's) service
Ready to help or be of use.
be of service
To be ready to help or be useful.

[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin servitium, slavery, from servus, slave.]

Usage Note: The verb service is used principally in the sense "to repair or maintain": service the washing machine. Exceptions to this usage include specialized senses in finance (service a debt) and animal breeding (service a mare). Serve means "to supply goods or services to," as in One radio network serves three states.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices

    Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

    Indo-European Roots

    Semitic Roots

    The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.

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