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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. (transitive) 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.
    • 1611, The Holy Bible, [] (King James Version), London: [] Robert Barker, [], OCLC 964384981, Job 11:6:
      God exacteth of thee less than thine iniquity deserveth.
    • 1853, William Makepeace Thackeray, The English Humorists of the Eighteenth Century
      John Gay deserved to be a favourite.
    • 1967, The Pacific Reporter, page 510:
      the grantees named in the questioned deed executed by their father richly deserved receiving the family home.
    • 2008, Michael Walzer, Spheres Of Justice: A Defense Of Pluralism And Equality, page 24:
      Perhaps they do, but they don't deserve that the rest of us contribute money or appropriate public funds for the purchase of pictures and the construction of buildings.
  2. (obsolete) To earn, win.
  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
      (please add an English translation of this quote)
    • c. 1603–1604 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Othello, the Moore of Venice”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, (please specify the act number in uppercase Roman numerals, and the scene number in lowercase Roman numerals):
      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.

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Further readingEdit

  • deserve at OneLook Dictionary Search
  • deserve in The Century Dictionary, New York, N.Y.: The Century Co., 1911