\ 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

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 It’s the kind of exercise equipment that doesn’t just help athletes. Chris Hachey, BGR, "Best Slide Board," 6 May 2021 Rather than feeling powerless or discouraged by these stories, her students are seeking and proposing solutions that can help climate refugees around the world. Vicki Phillips, Forbes, "What The World Needs Now Are Solution-Seekers. These Educators Are Creating Them.," 6 May 2021 Zionexa develops imaging agents that help oncologists select the right treatments for patients who have metastatic breast cancer., "Golfers’ return to the links bolsters Acushnet," 6 May 2021 Customers can also order books online through Bookshop as a way to help support the reopening. Heidi Stevens,, "Column: City Lit bookstore will reopen in June. And the neighbors (including this one) rejoice.," 6 May 2021 Over the years of agency involvement, social workers had connected Jordan’s mother with parenting classes, health and welfare services, and agencies that help overwhelmed mothers. cleveland, "25 years of deaths: A look back at child slayings among families known to Cuyahoga County’s child-welfare agency," 6 May 2021 As part of the drop, YellowHeart is donating a portion of its cut of the proceeds to the XXXFoundation, a nonprofit Sobande and Bernard started after XXXTentacion passed, and to a number of organizations that help women dealing with domestic abuse. Samantha Hissong, Rolling Stone, "XXXTentacion’s Estate Will Sell His Unreleased Songs as NFTs," 6 May 2021 But Democrats warned that the bill removes provisions -- from background checks to firearms training -- that help protect the public. Sara Murray, CNN, "Texas moves toward permit-free gun carrying, joining five other states this year," 6 May 2021 Wunda beverages are made from yellow peas, sourced from France and Belgium, that help boost the protein content. Corinne Gretler, Fortune, "Pea-based milk? Nestle announces new vegan milk brand to compete with Oatly," 5 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The administration also announced changes Friday in the rental assistance program aimed at addressing criticism that the emergency support has not reached many who need the help., "Biden administration allocates $21.6 billion in rental assistance," 7 May 2021 The administration also announced changes Friday in the rental assistance program aimed at addressing criticism that the emergency support has not reached many who need the help. Martin Crutsinger,, "Biden administration allocates $21.6 billion in emergency rental assistance," 7 May 2021 Behind the Scenes offers counseling grants for entertainment technology industry professionals who need help paying for mental health care. Billboard Staff, Billboard, "A Guide to Mental Health Resources for Music Professionals (Updating)," 7 May 2021 Even in a run-heavy offense, Jared Goff is going to need some help. Michael Middlehurst-schwartz, USA TODAY, "NFL draft's 17 biggest instant-impact rookies: Najee Harris, Kyle Pitts could make waves in Year 1," 6 May 2021 For the employer, that might require them to be more accessible when employees need help or are struggling to recalibrate. Tim Conn, Forbes, "Three Methods To Prepare Your Business Development Team For Flexibility," 5 May 2021 Applicants who need further help can call 1-561-355-4792. Ron Hurtibise,, "Palm Beach County reopens rental assistance portal," 3 May 2021 The Anti-Police Terror Project has set up a phone line that operates on Fridays and Saturdays for people who need help with issues surrounding mental health, domestic violence and substance abuse, but don't want a police officer showing up. W. Kamau Bell, CNN, "What you need to know about 'defund the police'," 2 May 2021 Mark Theriot, a 63-year-old shrimper, said he's been coming out every day simply because Scott Daspit and the other families need help. Rebecca Santana, ajc, "Determined volunteers still search for capsized ship missing," 1 May 2021

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

Last Updated

9 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Help.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 May. 2021.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on help

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for help

Nglish: Translation of help for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of help for Arabic Speakers

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