Definition of deserve in English:

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Pronunciation: /dɪˈzəːv/


[with object]
Do something or have or show qualities worthy of (a reaction which rewards or punishes as appropriate): the referee deserves a pat on the back [with infinitive]: we didn’t deserve to win
More example sentences
  • He deserves some reward for all the hard work he puts in and now he just has to be more selfish.
  • Irate shareholders wondered exactly what he had delivered to deserve such a reward.
  • He has a job where most people will not even know he's part of the staff, he deserves a pat on the back.
merit, earn, warrant, rate, justify, be worthy of, be entitled to, have a right to, have a claim on, be qualified for, be good enough for
well earned, well deserved, earned, merited, warranted, justified, justifiable;
rightful, due, right, just, fair, fitting, appropriate, suitable, proper, reasonable, apt
formal condign
archaic meet



deserve a medal

Have done something considered especially praiseworthy or heroic: as a psychiatric nurse he deserves a medal, anyway
More example sentences
  • The firefighters were amazing, and the gas man deserves a medal.
  • ‘I was so impressed with the organisation of the car park and the buses. Whoever organised it deserves a medal as do all the staff who were so positive and helpful,’ he said.
  • This lady, who in my opinion deserves a medal, her family, and the decent law-abiding people of this country, have been seriously let down by the legal system and by the police.

deserve well (or ill) of

Be worthy of good (or bad) treatment at the hands of.
Example sentences
  • ‘Zola’, he said, ‘deserves well of his country for not having lost faith in its ability to rule by law’ and concluded, ‘he was a moment in the history of human conscience.’
  • The names of those who deserve well of their country would swell this report to too great dimensions.
  • We hope that you will agree that she has, indeed, served us well and deserves well of us in return.


Middle English: from Old French deservir, from Latin deservire 'serve well or zealously'.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: de|serve

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