\ 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 (someone) : to provide (someone) with something that is useful or necessary in achieving an end How can I help you? He helps the children with their homework. Can you help me get this jar open? She helped him (walk) up/down the stairs.
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 Help us from famine / And plague and strife!— Alfred Tennyson
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

— see also helping hand, helping verb


plural helps

Definition of help (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the act or an instance of doing or supplying something to make it easier for another to complete a task, deal with a problem, etc. : aid, assistance I could use some help with the dishes. We heard cries for help coming from the house. We couldn't have done this without your help. I'm glad I could be of help. [=I'm glad I could help.] — see also self-help
2 : a source of aid She is a help to our efforts. You've been a great help to us. The instructions were no help (at all). He's been more of a hindrance than a help. Turner … and Mackinley … are big helps with their younger siblings.— Julia Lipscombe — see also help desk, help menu, help screen
3 : remedy, relief The situation is beyond help. (somewhat old-fashioned) There was no help for it. I was obliged to tell him the truth.— Wilkie Collins
4 plural usually help
a : employee help wanted usually used in plural but singular or plural in construction Most of the restaurant's summer help is/are college students.
b often offensive : a domestic worker usually used in plural but singular or plural in construction

Synonyms & Antonyms for help

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun

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

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The ground, course texture will help exfoliate the skin, drawing out impurities and managing oil production. ELLE, 20 May 2022 Together, these two prongs help the body regulate blood pressure, serum cholesterol, blood glucose and body fatness, all high risk factors that promote heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, stroke, etc. Bryant Stamford, The Courier-Journal, 19 May 2022 That uncertainty could help the Nets generate more interest in that pick on the trade market between now and next June, too. Bryan Toporek, Forbes, 19 May 2022 Aside from reducing waste, this may help reduce your exposure to microplastics, which have been found in both tap and bottled water, according to the World Health Organization. Beth Krietsch, SELF, 19 May 2022 The fundraiser will help support at-risk youth and young adults to rise beyond the mindset of survival to become leaders. Linda Chase, Sun Sentinel, 19 May 2022 Understanding these ghost fossils can help researchers search for them in other fossil record gaps and better understand warming periods across Earth's history. Ashley Strickland, CNN, 19 May 2022 These mental health and support group resources can help. USA Today, 19 May 2022 Professionals can also help individuals and families address mental health issues through a variety of therapies and interventions. Anchorage Daily News, 19 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Since moving into the house, the Oshies have updated it with the help of interior designer Marie Flanigan. Kathy Orton, Washington Post, 20 May 2022 In 2010, the EPA took the aggressive step of announcing a consent decree, a settlement that involves complex negotiations with the help of the Department of Justice. Kathleen Flynn, ProPublica, 20 May 2022 The centers were conceptualized and designed with the help of student ambassadors who are interested in interior design and architecture. San Diego Union-Tribune, 20 May 2022 Tester notes: Our panelists and consumer testers loved the flexibility to adjust each side of the bed to their preferred firmness for sleeping or lounging in bed, especially with the help of an adjustable base for optimal relaxation. Grace Wu, Good Housekeeping, 20 May 2022 All challah was once made with the help of a symbiotic culture. Benjamin, Longreads, 20 May 2022 Miller tries to avoid slipping back the underworld with the help of an old friend (Rhames). Brent Lang, Variety, 19 May 2022 Enel, the Italian utility aspiring to be a global green-energy giant, is also investing in a Sicilian plant to build three gigawatt of high-tech modules, with the help of EU funds. Rochelle Toplensky, WSJ, 19 May 2022 Several people were charged by a grand jury after allegedly smuggling drugs inside the Bexar County Jail for the Texas Mexican Mafia with the help of a former jailer. Jacob Beltran, San Antonio Express-News, 19 May 2022 See More

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.

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

Learn More About help

Time Traveler for help

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near help




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for help

Last Updated

21 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Help.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for help


\ 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

More from Merriam-Webster on help

Nglish: Translation of help for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of help for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Name That Food

  • a-light
  • Name these cookies!
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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