\ 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 The Billie Holiday Tribute Night is a fundraiser show that will help support the free online series Siren Nation Speaks, as well as other free events. oregonlive, "5 things to do this week: Lillian Pitt art show, ‘Lady Sings the Blues,’ and Fear No Music," 31 Mar. 2021 The game of basketball, there's one or two possessions that could really either help you or hurt you. Jeff Seidel, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan basketball fantastic season ends after blowing a chance to reach Final Four," 31 Mar. 2021 The partnership also includes a training element that will help educate people on how to use quantum computing for research — which is likely to further grow the ecosystem around the new technology. Clare Duffy, CNN, "Cleveland Clinic and IBM hope their tech partnership could help prevent the next pandemic," 30 Mar. 2021 Here are three exercises, backed by science, that can help young women overcome self-doubt. NBC News, "3 science-backed techniques to help young women overcome self-doubt," 30 Mar. 2021 Like the faded paint, there are elements of tradition and the past that help form its future. George Messenger, National Review, "The Mayor of Charlottesville Is Wrong About Her City," 30 Mar. 2021 Dear Retired Teacher: Your advice regarding a foster child teaches us all about a very real option that could help everyone involved. cleveland, "Dear Annie: Readers share thoughts on children and caring for elderly parents," 30 Mar. 2021 Players in both tournaments are tested daily and wear devices that help with contact tracing. Matt Young, Chron, "Baylor's Kim Mulkey gives ridiculous opinion about COVID-19 testing," 30 Mar. 2021 Factors that could help California include just how low disease transmission has plunged in many areas of the state. Los Angeles Times, "California’s COVID-19 ‘honeymoon’ has been glorious. But it could end soon," 30 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In 2017, Woods checked himself into a clinic for help in dealing with prescription drug medication after a DUI charge in his home state of Florida. Stefanie Dazio, Chron, "Detectives find cause of Tiger Woods crash but won't reveal details," 31 Mar. 2021 Asking for help is far easier — and will be more effective — than making accusations. Washington Post, "Miss Manners: Part of our friend group only takes, never gives," 31 Mar. 2021 According to the complaint filed in New York district court Tuesday, Shah and Smith allegedly participated in a scheme that defrauded hundreds of people, many over the age of 55, who were looking for help in running online businesses. Charles Trepany, USA TODAY, "Stars of 'Real Housewives of Salt Lake City' arrested, charged in massive telemarketing scheme," 31 Mar. 2021 Recreating this look might be difficult without the help of a nail technician, given that Jenner’s art appears to be freehand painted onto gel-tip extensions. Sarah Midkiff,, "Kylie Jenner’s Fresh French Manicure Is Taking Over TikTok," 26 Mar. 2021 The money comes as biological and medical researchers are unlocking information about the human body at a scale that could take lifetimes to analyze and fully understand, without the help of sophisticated artificial intelligence software., "Broad Institute names new center on AI and medicine for former Google chief Schmidt," 25 Mar. 2021 Santos, a homeless man, could not pay the $500 bail without outside help. Joseph Simonson, Washington Examiner, "Left-wing prosecutors still believe murder crisis best solved through restorative justice," 25 Mar. 2021 But trading Bitcoin without help from an institution proved tricky. New York Times, "Coinbase Users Say Crypto Start-Up Ignored Their Pleas for Help," 24 Mar. 2021 The general scattergun nature of it all reflects the need to fill an information void created when a first-year AD who’s never hired a coach before goes it alone without the help of a search firm. Zach Osterman, The Indianapolis Star, "Source: Indiana did not have agreement with Thad Matta to become next Hoosiers coach," 22 Mar. 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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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

3 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Help.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Apr. 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

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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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