\ 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

Keep scrolling for more

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


Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Regan also helped design and build the Presbyterian Church in Coventry in the late 1980s. Anne M. Hamilton,, "He Brought His Skill For Teaching, Knack For Colonial Buildings To Coventry," 15 July 2018 The app helps kids practice vocabulary, comprehension and writing through games, puzzles and books, according to the hospital. Naseem S. Miller,, "Poinciana Medical Center installs iPads in ER waiting room," 14 July 2018 The plea deal helped him avoid a more severe sentence. Bree Burkitt, azcentral, "Former Navajo Nation police officer sentenced to 16 years in prison for fatal DUI crash," 14 July 2018 Major risk factors for accidental falls include lower body weakness, vitamin D deficiency (this nutrient helps with bone strength), vision problems, medicines that affect balance, difficulty walking, and more, according to the CDC. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "Emergency Responders Share 9 of the Biggest Death Traps in Your Home," 14 July 2018 Our area, given the diverse makeup of its immigrant communities, helps keep us focused on Latin America and Asia. Lisa Deaderick,, "Leading a local council to teach people about the world around them," 14 July 2018 Other left-wing advocacy groups, such as Swing Left and Indivisible, are helping to recruit volunteers and generate grass-roots support in competitive districts. New York Times, "4,500 Tech Workers, 1 Mission: Get Democrats Elected," 13 July 2018 Esther helped them create an alternative ceremony: His parents, Elizabeth and Richard, and hers, Jill and Dan, wrapped each of them in their grandfathers’ tallitot., "Philadelphia weddings: Moriah Benjoseph and Ben Nassau," 13 July 2018 Their work not only helped create a more organized tree for the bats, but also eventually revealed two distinct genetic lineages. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "Two New Yellow-Bellied Bats May Have Been Found in Kenya," 13 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The balloon release was followed by a cookout with a DJ, made possible with the help of an $1,000 grant from Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts, McMahan said. Brittany Britto,, "Residents gather to remember children lost to violence with community walk, balloon release," 14 July 2018 The town, with help of consultant Planimetrics, posted the survey July 9 on the municipal website and its Facebook account. Bill Leukhardt, Courant Community, "Plainville Asks Residents For Ideas On Updating Master Plan Of Devopment," 14 July 2018 The work was funded with the help of the Shrewsbury Lions Club and many private contributions. Cynthia Fernandez,, "A sensory garden, a Beatles cover band, and a mentor program itself gets a boost," 13 July 2018 With the help of music experts, Zureikat spent 2015 scouring Jordan, bringing back bundles of reeds to Amman to be tested for their pitch, durability, and quality. Taylor Luck, The Christian Science Monitor, "In rediscovered reed flute, a soulful link to Jordanian identity," 13 July 2018 Prime Minister May rightly is committed to maintaining open borders with Ireland, which in turn were crucial to the 1998 peace accords Britain and Ireland — with the help of U.S. leaders — achieved in Northern Ireland. Arthur I. Cyr, Lake County News-Sun, "Cyr: Britain’s prime minister takes charge of cabinet," 13 July 2018 With the help of Bags to Butterflies, Carswell is going through the process of getting a driver's license. Deasia Paige, Detroit Free Press, "Prison to purses: Detroit program gives ex-female felons a 2nd chance," 12 July 2018 In a video published by TMZ, comedian George Lopez can be seen pretending to urinate on the commander-in-chief's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame with the help of a water bottle. Erin Jensen, USA TODAY, "George Lopez pretends to urinate on Trump's Hollywood Walk of Fame star," 12 July 2018 With the help of Google's AI division, the team were able to train a neural network to learn what a signal from a distant planet looked like and comb through the telescopes observations of 670 stars for planets that had slipped through the net. Alvaro Montano, Houston Chronicle, "Planet Hockey offers young players chance to improve skill set at Willowbrook camp," 11 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about help

Dictionary Entries near help






help desk


Statistics for help

Last Updated

18 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for help

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


to make amends

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!