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From Middle English deserven, from Old French deservir, from Latin dēserviō, from dē- + serviō.



deserve (third-person singular simple present deserves, present participle deserving, simple past and past participle deserved)

  1. To be entitled to, as a result of past actions; to be worthy to have.
    After playing so well, the team really deserved their win.
    After what he did, he deserved to go to prison.
    This argument deserves a closer examination.
    • Bible, Job xi. 6
      God exacteth of thee less than thine iniquity deserveth.
    • Thackeray
      John Gay deserved to be a favourite.
  2. (obsolete) To earn, win.
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, III.vii:
      That gentle Lady, whom I loue and serue, / After long suit and weary seruicis, / Did aske me, how I could her loue deserue, / And how she might be sure, that I would neuer swerue.
  3. (obsolete) To reward, to give in return for service.
    • 1485, Sir Thomas Malory, chapter xxx, in Le Morte Darthur, book VIII:
      Gramercy saide the kynge / & I lyue sir Lambegus I shal deserue hit / And thenne sir Lambegus armed hym / and rode after as fast as he myghte
    • 1603?, William Shakespeare, Othello:
      Pray you, lead on. At every house I'll call; / I may command at most. Get weapons, ho! / And raise some special officers of night. / On, good Roderigo: I'll deserve your pains.
  4. (obsolete) To serve; to treat; to benefit.
    • Massinger
      A man that hath / So well deserved me.

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