\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


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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

This approach was confirmed by Katharine Hayhoe, a scientist who helped author this section. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Trump administration organizes pushback against its own climate report," 3 Dec. 2018 Acosta, who helped Epstein serve his time in an office rather than a prison cell — and measure it in months, not years — oversees Trump’s Labor Department, which is responsible for, among other things, preventing human trafficking. Jane Coaston, Vox, "Jeffrey Epstein, the convicted sex offender who is friends with Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, explained," 3 Dec. 2018 The push could also increase product quality, improve dispatch reliability by 30%, and help the company triple its services revenue by the 2020s, bringing the figure up to EUR10 billion a year, GS says. WSJ, "European Equities Market Talk Roundup," 22 Nov. 2018 Microsoft has been consistently updating its Android launcher over the past year, helping the software giant embrace Android as the mobile version of Windows. Tom Warren, The Verge, "Microsoft adds a digital health feature to its Android launcher," 21 Nov. 2018 On Thanksgiving eve, the Duchess pulled on an apron, rolled up her sleeves, and helped make rainbow roasted potatoes. Elise Taylor, Vogue, "Meghan Markle Gets Into the Thanksgiving Spirit," 21 Nov. 2018 According to the Palace, Will and Kate will be meeting with new apprentices today, in addition to hearing from recent graduates and learning about how the programs are helping Essex as a whole engage with the world of sports. Maggie Maloney, Town & Country, "Kate Middleton Wore a Gray Blazer and Black Jeans to Visit Coach Core," 30 Oct. 2018 That key design went into the following MacBook Pros, helping keep every model thin and light. Alexander George, Popular Mechanics, "So, About That Retina Macbook Air Keyboard," 30 Oct. 2018 The Boulder Crest Retreat has been effective for those who have not been helped by traditional treatment. Jim Rendon, Marie Claire, "When Female Veterans Return Home," 29 Oct. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Dizzy with pain, Stephanie sent Dominic to find help, and soon emergency workers arrived to take Stephanie to a hospital. Shelley Levitt, Woman's Day, "These 4 Inspirational Women Went to Great Lengths for Their Kids," 4 Dec. 2018 How did that knowledge help inform your decisions for each piece? Lucia Tonelli, ELLE Decor, "Martyn Lawrence Bullard's Corbett Lighting Collection Is Gorgeously Extravagant," 14 Nov. 2018 Overwhelmed by the wide world of decorating options, CeCe wanted my help in rethinking a few rooms in her Georgian house overlooking Audubon Park. Sara Ruffin Costello, ELLE Decor, "A New Orleans Manse is Given New Life with a Fashionable Pizzazz," 26 Oct. 2018 Don’t be deterred—get lost and ask a shepherd for help. Kyre Chenven, Condé Nast Traveler, "For Sardinia’s Wild Side, Head to Sulcis," 12 Oct. 2018 Spirals were giving extra spring with the help of small-sized curling irons, short styles and natural textures were zhuzhed up and topped with product to shine, while long, straight and wavy hair was given the bouncy Victoria's Secret blowout. Sophia Panych, Allure, "Victoria's Secret Fashion Show 2018: Why Charlotte Tilbury Didn't Use Highlighter on the Angels," 8 Nov. 2018 Gavin, with the help of his mom, has set up a website and, by popular demand, is selling his now-famous pasta necklaces worldwide. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "The Australian Boy Who Gave Meghan Markle a Macaroni Necklace Is Now Selling His Pasta Jewelry for Charity," 27 Oct. 2018 With the help of your Dutch Oven, this vegetarian soup can be made in just 30 minutes. The Good Housekeeping Test Kitchen, Good Housekeeping, "Roasted Red Pepper Soup," 24 Oct. 2018 In a report published Tuesday, FireEye said its researchers now assess with high confidence that the malware used in the attack was developed with the help of the Central Scientific Research Institute of Chemistry and Mechanics in Moscow. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "Russia was likely behind dangerous critical infrastructure attack, report says," 24 Oct. 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

11 Dec 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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More from Merriam-Webster on help

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with help

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for help

Spanish Central: Translation of help

Nglish: Translation of help for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of help for Arabic Speakers

Comments on help

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having a pattern of small flowers

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