Definition of deserve in English:



  • 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’
    • ‘There will always be debate about who deserves honours, all of it highly subjective.’
    • ‘Tomorrow's shorter distance is a bit of a worry, but he deserves attention all the same.’
    • ‘That is the measure of his achievement and for it he deserves our heartfelt praise and thanks.’
    • ‘The vessel does sterling work for the community and deserves recognition for this.’
    • ‘He deserves some reward for all the hard work he puts in and now he just has to be more selfish.’
    • ‘When an offence deserves a lesser sentence, let that sentence also be passed in open court.’
    • ‘If you are to be placed in such a position, you deserve a fair hearing in court.’
    • ‘The original text for this piece is not mine, but it's so good it deserves reproduction.’
    • ‘Like him, Alice is very brave and deserves a chance for a bone marrow transplant.’
    • ‘Gemma deserves justice from the community if people can only be brave enough to come forward.’
    • ‘Irate shareholders wondered exactly what he had delivered to deserve such a reward.’
    • ‘The car was very good and the team did a fantastic job and really deserve a win.’
    • ‘There is no quick fix or simple solution and the Executive deserves credit for the start it has made.’
    • ‘He has a job where most people will not even know he's part of the staff, he deserves a pat on the back.’
    • ‘Now he has two or three years to really show that he deserves our faith in him.’
    • ‘This week, it is an honour to be able to praise someone who really deserves it.’
    • ‘Everyone deserves a second chance, and people like him really do need to be helped.’
    • ‘It can get too much for her though and those are the times she deserves a hug more than anyone else I know.’
    • ‘No problem, she works hard and she deserves a little bit of quality time to relax.’
    • ‘If you know of a group which deserves this recognition, make sure you nominate them.’
    well earned, well deserved, earned, merited, warranted, justified, justifiable
    rightful, due, right, just, fair, fitting, appropriate, suitable, proper, reasonable, apt
    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
    View synonyms


  • deserve a medal

    • Have done something considered especially praiseworthy or heroic:

      ‘as a psychiatric nurse he deserves a medal, anyway’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The one we have now really is a pillar of the community and he deserves a medal for his years of hard work.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I think he deserves a medal or a plaque or at least a holiday.’
  • deserve well (or ill) of

    • Be worthy of good (or bad) treatment at the hands of.

      • ‘‘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.’
      • ‘All honor to the volunteers of the Confederacy - they deserve well of their country.’
      • ‘In ancient Greece a crown of olive-twigs was the highest distinction of a citizen who had deserved well of his country.’
      • ‘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.