\ 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 outhelps 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 collectivelythe 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 Barrientos said that after the ambush, officers had counseling resources available to help them. Dallas News, "For Dallas-area officers coping with trauma after July 7 ambush and other shootings, a focus on mental wellness," 7 July 2019 Maybe not, but the UKSRN survey may at least help us find out how much consensus there is or isn’t among the public. Sigal Samuel, Vox, "If aliens call, what should we do? Scientists want your opinion.," 6 July 2019 Weak sales of Samsung's latest flagship phone didn't help. Sherisse Pham, CNN, "Samsung warns of profit slump as memory chips and smartphones struggle," 5 July 2019 With Rattlers fans inspiring the team to overcome a season's worth of adversity, Mady can't help but feel a connection to them. Drake Hills, azcentral, "Triumph proves Arizona Rattlers are battle tested for United Bowl," 5 July 2019 The Macdonalds said the Ramona Chamber of Commerce was phenomenal in helping them locate their storefront business. Ramona Sentinel, "Kit Fox Outfitters expands online sales at Ramona store," 5 July 2019 Schroder's experience as a cancer survivor helped her see the health-care system from a different perspective. Jason Williams,, "PX column: She fought to save kids' lives in Africa. She beat cancer. Cincinnati mom's next challenge — politics," 5 July 2019 Stanford’s program takes on local companies already earning between $150,000 and $15 million annually and helps them figure out how to grow and scale. Abdi Latif Dahir, Quartz Africa, "Top American universities are doubling down on their presence across Africa," 5 July 2019 Others cannot help noticing you and wanting to be around you., "Horoscope," 4 July 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The pair got help from the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which has long considered Amazon’s online shopping business a threat to its members. Bloomberg Wire, Dallas News, "Behind Amazon’s HQ2 fiasco, Jeff Bezos wanted incentives like Elon Musk’s," 3 Feb. 2020 So far in January, operators have not been getting much help from prices. Erin Douglas, Houston Chronicle, "U.S. oil and gas rig count dips," 31 Jan. 2020 Today's Fernald settlement is designed to make sure workers and former workers like Kelly get some help., "Accused podcast, Season 3, Chapter 8: The nuclear wrap-up," 28 Jan. 2020 In desperation, Frank turns to Jeff for help, and the two join up with Natalie to find Theresa, who is missing. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "The Wave takes us on a trippy, surreal journey through a fractured timeline," 26 Jan. 2020 With the help of a public relations firm, Burson-Marsteller (now BCW), Valspar crafted a plan to ask prominent BPA skeptics to study the chemical for endocrine effects. Warren Cornwall, Science | AAAS, "To replace controversial plastic additive BPA, a chemical company teams up with unlikely allies," 23 Jan. 2020 Kelly is getting help in his campaign from the state Republican Party. Patrick Marley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Daniel Kelly got a shoutout from Trump. How the president and Scott Walker loom in Wisconsin's race for Supreme Court," 15 Jan. 2020 Our version mirrors those flavors, but cooks in a fraction of the time with the help of an Instant Pot. Paul Stephen,, "From the Instant Pot to vegan jackfruit, 4 twists on tortilla soup this winter," 15 Jan. 2020 Small children were ; with the help of the Dutch Resistance, however, hundreds of these children were smuggled into the college next door, saving them from near certain death. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian Magazine, "A New Holocaust Museum Is Coming to the Netherlands, With Help From Germany," 15 Jan. 2020

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

Cite this Entry

“Help.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for help


How to pronounce help (audio)

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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with help

Spanish Central: Translation of help

Nglish: Translation of help for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of help for Arabic Speakers

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