\ ˈhelp How to pronounce help (audio) ; Southern often ˈhep also ˈheəp \
helped; helping; helps

Definition of help

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to give assistance or support to help a child with homework
2a : to make more pleasant or bearable : improve, relieve bright curtains will help the room took an aspirin to help her headache
b archaic : rescue, save
3a : to be of use to : benefit will do anything to help their cause
b : to further the advancement of : promote could help negotiations
4a : to change for the better
b : to refrain from : avoid we couldn't help laughing
c : to keep from occurring : prevent they couldn't help the accident
d : to restrain (oneself) from doing something knew they shouldn't go but couldn't help themselves
5 : to serve with food or drink especially at a meal told the guests to help themselves
6 : to take something for (oneself) without permission helped himself to the car keys

intransitive verb

1 : to give assistance or support often used with out helps out with the housework
2 : to be of use or benefit every little bit helps
so help me
: upon my word : believe it or not



Definition of help (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : aid, assistance trying to be of help
2 : a source of aid printed helps to the memory— C. S. Braden
3 : remedy, relief there was no help for it
4a : one who serves or assists another (as in housework) : helper
b : employee help wanted often used collectively the hired help

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Synonyms & Antonyms for help

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Noun

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Choose the Right Synonym for help


improve, better, help, ameliorate mean to make more acceptable or to bring nearer a standard. improve and better are general and interchangeable and apply to what can be made better whether it is good or bad. measures to further improve the quality of medical care immigrants hoping to better their lot help implies a bettering that still leaves room for improvement. a coat of paint would help that house ameliorate implies making more tolerable or acceptable conditions that are hard to endure. tried to ameliorate the lives of people in the tenements

Examples of help in a Sentence

Verb Don't blame me: I was only trying to help! Help! Somebody call the police! She took an aspirin to help her headache. Humor often helps a tense situation. It's not much money, but every little bit helps. Noun He thanked us for our help. I could use some help with the dishes. We could hear shouts for help coming from the house. He's been more of a hindrance than a help.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb So this is where Congress and the administration, the government and the private sector can really help fix this problem. ABC News, 30 May 2021 Anyone who can help police identify the vehicle or the driver can send Tuscaloosa Police a Facebook message, call TPD’s non-emergency main number at 205-349-2121, or 205-248-4737 to speak with an investigator. Carol Robinson |, al, 30 May 2021 Police in Maine spearheading the search for a 29-year-old woman who vanished outside a McDonald’s in New York City’s Times Square earlier this week have released new photos of her Friday in hopes the public can help track her down. Greg Norman, Fox News, 29 May 2021 Israel has the third highest vaccination rate, at about 60%, and global observers like U.S. infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci have pointed to Israel’s low Covid-19 infection rate as proof vaccines can help restore normalcy. Joe Walsh, Forbes, 29 May 2021 Alcohol delivery from restaurants will likely remain a small share of overall sales, but can help bring in new customers and is generally positive, said Victor Fernandez, Black Box’s vice president of insights and knowledge. Heather Haddon, WSJ, 29 May 2021 Altman’s focus is on the players who can help this organization move forward. Chris Fedor, cleveland, 28 May 2021 Lee had nearly $1 million on hand at the end of the last fundraising quarter, and the emergence of a serious challenger can only help that effort. Bryan Schott, The Salt Lake Tribune, 28 May 2021 Early glimmers of hope that Mustafa can help his friends survive become confrontations with the inevitability of loss. Mankaprr Conteh, Rolling Stone, 28 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The most famous self-help book ever written is not American, however. Louis Menand, The New Yorker, 31 May 2021 That help could this summer, when many households will get a form of additional stimulus aid when families with children under 18 will get direct payments for six months through the revised Child Tax Credit. Aimee Picchi, CBS News, 31 May 2021 The best deals to shop from the Coach Memorial Day sale Need help finding products? Nishka Dhawan, USA TODAY, 29 May 2021 Plus, a blend of ingredients like caffeine, kola nut extract, and sea whip extract help to reduce redness. Victoria Moorhouse, Forbes, 28 May 2021 The high-end updates help to highlight the home's seamless flow, with its wide walkways and bright, open spaces. Rohan Preston, Star Tribune, 28 May 2021 So for working people 65 or older, here’s help with figuring out when to enroll in Medicare and how to avoid costly late-enrollment penalties and gaps in coverage. Nerd Wallet, oregonlive, 27 May 2021 To request treatment help, which now is provided in many ways, call 513-281-7880. Terry Demio, The Enquirer, 26 May 2021 That plan was two years in the making by City Forester Charles Orlowski, with the help of the Tree Advisory Board, other city departments and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Thomas Jewell, cleveland, 25 May 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'help.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of help


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for help

Verb and Noun

Middle English, from Old English helpan; akin to Old High German helfan to help, and perhaps to Lithuanian šelpti

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Learn More about help

Time Traveler for help

Time Traveler

The first known use of help was before the 12th century

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Statistics for help

Last Updated

2 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Help.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for help



English Language Learners Definition of help

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to do something that makes it easier for someone to do a job, to deal with a problem, etc. : to aid or assist someone
: to make something less severe : to make something more pleasant or easier to deal with
: to give (yourself or another person) food or drink



English Language Learners Definition of help (Entry 2 of 2)

: activities or efforts that make it easier to do a job, deal with a problem, etc.
: something (such as money or advice) that is given to someone who needs it
: someone or something that makes it easier to do a job, deal with a problem, etc.


\ ˈhelp How to pronounce help (audio) \
helped; helping

Kids Definition of help

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to provide with what is useful in achieving an end
2 : to give relief from pain or disease Did the medicine help?
3 : prevent sense 1 I couldn't help laughing.
4 : serve entry 1 sense 1 Help yourself to more.

Other Words from help

helper \ ˈhel-​pər \ noun



Kids Definition of help (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : an act or instance of helping : aid I need your help.
2 : the fact of being useful or helpful She's not much help.
3 : the ability to be helped We are beyond help.
4 : a person or a thing that helps You've been a real help.
5 : a body of hired helpers

More from Merriam-Webster on help

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for help

Nglish: Translation of help for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of help for Arabic Speakers


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