help

verb
\ 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

help

noun

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

hinder

Antonyms: Noun

hindrance

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Choose the Right Synonym for help

Verb

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

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, Cincinnati.com, "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. BostonGlobe.com, "Horoscope," 4 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Ultimately, Thai officials rescued the boys without Musk's help. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Musk spent $50,000 digging into critic’s personal life," 17 Sep. 2019 Julie, her brother Bill and their mother, Lillian Axley, now own the business, and Julie, her husband, Ron, Bill and his son, Brian Axley help with the business. Monique Welch, orlandosentinel.com, "Tampa Bay sawmill cuts its last cypress log and shuts down," 17 Sep. 2019 Officer Echeverria’s death on Aug. 14 was the ninth officer suicide this year in New York City, a record for a department that has struggled to identify troubled officers in its ranks and direct them toward help. Edgar Sandoval, New York Times, "She Begged Them to Take Away His Police Handgun. He Died Anyway.," 16 Sep. 2019 This was done despite the saving help given them by the USA. NBC News, "How the GM strike could affect your next car purchase," 16 Sep. 2019 Schooled by years of struggle in the unsparing world of New York electoral politics, the W.F.P. was in a position to give the Cabán campaign considerable organizational help. Andrew Cockburn, Harper's magazine, "Power of Attorney," 16 Sep. 2019 But the more months that passed, the more help the boys seemed to need. Author: Ariana Eunjung Cha, Anchorage Daily News, "The autistic children of sperm donor H898," 16 Sep. 2019 Our guys fought hard, but not having those guys didn’t help. Jason Frakes, The Courier-Journal, "Friday Night Rewind: Jayden Farmer's big night and more news, notes and a new Top 10," 14 Sep. 2019 Costello did not receive much help, either as four of his passes were dropped. C.j. Peterson, The Mercury News, "Stanford almost loses one for the ages," 14 Sep. 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.

See More

First Known Use of help

Verb

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Noun

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about help

Dictionary Entries near help

Helotiales

helotism

Helotium

help

helpable

help desk

helper

Statistics for help

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

help

verb

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

help

noun

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.

help

verb
\ 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

help

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

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

What made you want to look up help? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

a bell tower

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Where in the World? A Quiz

  • peter bruegel tower of babel painting
  • What language does pajama come from?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Bee Cubed

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

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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