\ˈhelp; 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

abet, aid, assist, back, backstop, prop (up), support

Synonyms: Noun

abetment, aid, assist, assistance, backing, boost, hand, helping hand, leg up, lift, support

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


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.


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

He was hired in part to help with Health Nucleus, expanding its services to other locations and making its digital offerings more customer-friendly. Bradley J. Fikes,, "Human Longevity names interim CEO," 13 July 2018 King Lion Angela Bruce, the president of the Lions Club, presented a monetary award to Lisbon Fire Chief Carey McIntosh to help with the construction of the new fire house. Tracy Trobridge, Howard County Times, "Glenwood Lions Club recognizes police and fire heroes [Glenwood/Glenelg/Dayton]," 12 July 2018 Many firms, including Davis Polk, as well as Freshfields and Clifford Chance in London, use Kira to help with document review. The Economist, "Law firms climb aboard the AI wagon," 12 July 2018 So when a new Louisville company, Mojo Hydration, started offering Louisville City players a saline water concoction through an IV to help with post-game rehydration, Totsch didn't hesitate to give it a try. Zahria Rogers, The Courier-Journal, "Concierge IV hydration therapy service seeks to rehydrate Louisville," 12 July 2018 Still, like Shapiro, Fisher remains active — swimming, dance, and spinning to help with her balance. Terri Akman,, "Parkinson's Disease may affect women differently. These researchers aim to find out why," 12 July 2018 Now, in summer 2018, a growing number of tragedies like hers have spurred area school districts, working with mental health agencies, to help troubled students — not just during the school year but year-round. Mará Rose Williams, kansascity, "Teen suicide doesn’t end with the school year. Now JoCo schools offer summertime therapy," 12 July 2018 Inside the immigration complex, Pulex helped Marelyn drink from a water bottle, and then pulled the little girl's hand up to her heart and kissed it. Colleen Long, The Christian Science Monitor, "Families reunited, then deported to Guatemala," 12 July 2018 City of Naperville officials helped facilitate the deal between the church and the carpet company owner. Erin Hegarty, Naperville Sun, "Naperville to consider annexing Route 59 church to make way for commerical development," 12 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Though Paul Tyan's guitar music score is a little sappy, Aris otherwise impressively manages to keep his exploration of whether lies of this magnitude help save or destroy lives soberly honest and grounded. Boyd Van Hoeij, The Hollywood Reporter, "'The Swing' ('Al Marjouha'): Film Review | Karlovy Vary 2018," 12 July 2018 Meanwhile, a group of cave-diving enthusiasts converged on Mae Sai with offers of help and expertise. Jake Maxwell Watts, WSJ, "The Thai Cave Rescue, Before Its Triumph, Teetered on the Brink of Disaster," 11 July 2018 But, practically speaking, some caregivers might have no idea where to turn for that kind of help. Beth Kassab,, "Caregivers need to focus on themselves too — and ask for help," 11 July 2018 Of course, Treinen has worked incredibly hard to reach this point and had a lot of help from people along the way, also saying his success is God-given and his faith carried him through his unique journey. John Shea,, "A’s closer Blake Treinen sinks opposition while team soars," 5 July 2018 And more importantly, how can the rational citizens of the internet help snap them back to a reality devoid of lizard people and shadowy baby-stealing organizations? Emma Grey Ellis, WIRED, "Here’s One Way to Reform an Internet Conspiracy Theorist," 27 June 2018 As the siege dragged on, priest Raul Zamora spoke by phone to Nicaraguan radio appealing for help. Washington Post,, "Two killed as pro-government militia traps protesters in Nicaraguan church," 14 July 2018 That woman asked an officer standing a few yards away for help, but the officer appeared to ignore the confrontation. CBS News, "Black teen speaks out after woman is charged with attacking him at pool," 14 July 2018 Milwaukee police are asking the public for help identifying a woman who showed up at a local hospital and could not communicate with the staff. Ashley Luthern, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Milwaukee police seek public's help in identifying woman who showed up at hospital," 13 July 2018

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


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


see help entry 1

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Learn More about help

Dictionary Entries near help






help desk


Statistics for help

Last Updated

2 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for help

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

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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 \
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

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Comments on help

What made you want to look up help? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


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