\ 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

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


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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


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

Debo’s support, along with that of U.S. Rep. Ralph Regula, R-Canton, helped lead to a 1996 act of Congress designating the Ohio & Erie Canalway as a National Heritage Area – a new kind of linear national park. Steven Litt,, "Burning River legacy: Towpath Trail spurs rediscovery of Cuyahoga Valley, erasing east-west divide," 9 June 2019 Carlos Santana’s two-run homer in the sixth inning helped rookie Zach Plesac get his first major league win and sent the Cleveland Indians to a 5-2 win over the New York Yankees, who welcomed back shortstop Didi Gregorius on Friday night., "Santana’s homer powers Indians past Yankees 5-2," 8 June 2019 Disinfectants can kill distemper, so regular cleaning helps, too. Emma Keith, Detroit Free Press, "Here's how to protect your pets from parvo and distemper," 8 June 2019 The move could help give the European auto giant a better valuation and even trigger a copycat initiative at its rival Daimler. Stephen Wilmot, WSJ, "The IPO That Could Reorder the Truck Industry," 8 June 2019 Trapshooting helps develop mental and physical discipline, according to proponents, and also teaches responsible use of a firearm. Paul A. Smith, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Smith: Southeastern Wisconsin youth trapshooters keep busting targets and breaking records," 8 June 2019 Those gerrymanders helped the Republicans protect their majority in the House of Representatives until the Democratic wave in 2018 and kept them in control of all five of the state legislatures even though Democrats won more votes in those states. David G. Savage, Anchorage Daily News, "With political power at stake, Supreme Court is set to rule on gerrymandering and the census," 8 June 2019 Replicating the fossilization process helps researchers learn more about the creature’s final moments and the earliest stages of fossilization. Rachael Lallensack, Smithsonian, "Here Are 12 Things You Might Miss in the Smithsonian’s New Fossil Hall," 7 June 2019 Thomas, an Oregon native, should help the Devils offset the loss of all-conference big man Zylan Cheatham and take the burden off returnee Romello White. Jon Wilner, The Mercury News, "Stock report: On USC football momentum, Stanford basketball personnel hits, Pac-12 bowl partners and more," 7 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Vanguard Sculpture Services was tasked with the creation of the statue and Holleran designed the sculpture with the help of Lisowski’s family. Erik S. Hanley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Bronze Crusher statue revealed at South Milwaukee's Crusherfest; daughter says it's 'the best possible image' of him," 8 June 2019 Beyond the sheer lack of high numbers of Black mental health professionals in the field, there’s also a longstanding stigma that discourages Black people from seeking help in the first place. Jasmine Grant, Essence, "Taraji P. Henson Gives An Emotional Testimony To Congress On Mental Health Among Black Youth: 'This Is A National Crisis'," 7 June 2019 Only four states had laws that allowed patients to seek medical help to die by the time Maynard took her lethal medication late in 2014, the effects of her cancer by then unbearable. Jorge L. Ortiz, USA TODAY, "'What I want is a peaceful death': Kevin Roster has only weeks to live – and that's why he moved to California," 7 June 2019 Cell ages were determined with the help of new imaging technology from the lab of coauthor Ellisman, the UCSD neuroscientist. San Diego Union-Tribune, "How old are your organs? Salk, UCSD mouse study finds human clues," 6 June 2019 Most of the people who seek help at the Mission of Mercy event in Phoenix continue to be working-age people covered by Medicaid, which in Arizona is called the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, Conroy said. Stephanie Innes, azcentral, "Inaugural event will offer free dental care in Flagstaff this week, lineups expected," 5 June 2019 Two other men have filed similar lawsuits against Canyon County, with the help of attorney Maria Andrade and Immigrant Justice Idaho. Ruth Brown, idahostatesman, "A local man claimed he was wrongfully held in jail on ICE hold. Now the county must pay him.," 4 June 2019 As a result, many Latinx people, NAMI notes, don’t know what the signs and symptoms of mental illness are, or how to seek help. Christian Becerra, Teen Vogue, "Why Latinx People Need Better Mental Health Support," 14 May 2019 The vast majority of the 60,000 text conversations that have been had so far have been with people under 25 seeking help, with most texting late at night and typically using the service for about an hour. Victoria Murphy, Town & Country, "Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle, Prince William, and Prince Harry Team Up to Launch Shout, a Crisis Text Line," 9 May 2019

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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Learn More about help

Dictionary Entries near help






help desk


Statistics for help

Last Updated

12 Jun 2019

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 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

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

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