Definition of serve one's time in English:

serve one's time

(US serve out one's time)


  • 1Hold office for the normal period.

    ‘every sergeant had served his time as a constable’
    • ‘If he really served his time in the National Guard during the Vietnam War, he could easily prove it.’
    • ‘If he is not in death row and he's serving out his time in a maximum-security prison, he will be afforded special treatment, if you will.’
    • ‘These individuals, after they serve their time in the states, will be deported, and one of our goals is to make sure that when they're deported, they don't come back.’
    • ‘There are new questions about the military's policy for calling up troops who have already served their time.’
    • ‘He was appointed to the post of county manager after serving his time as county engineer in Donegal.’
    1. 1.1 Spend time in office, in an apprenticeship, or in prison.
      ‘he is serving time in Swansea Prison’
      • ‘He says he robbed banks and served time in prison.’
      • ‘They finally tracked him down to an English prison where he was serving time for a similar crime but under a false name.’
      • ‘They were sentenced to 15 months, but given a suspended sentence, which means they didn't have to serve time in prison.’
      • ‘Most of the former soldiers have already served time in Soviet prisons for war crimes.’
      • ‘You will never see me on the front lines - I am in complete moral opposition to war, and would rather serve time in prison than spend time with a rifle.’