\ 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 Some used the benefits to avoid exposure to the virus from in-person jobs, while others trained for new professions, cared for family members, or stayed home to help children with online schooling., 18 July 2021 The dollars can be used to help with demolition, construction, repairs and renovations. Star Tribune, 17 July 2021 Authorities searched the area for the truck, and also contacted FedEx, who provided information about the driver to help with the search, according to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office. oregonlive, 17 July 2021 Federal authorities promised to help with the case and added money to a reward, pushing the total to $60,000. Washington Post, 17 July 2021 The app gives residents the ability to provide anonymous tips and information to help members of the task force answer complaints and fight crime, according to a news release. Madison Bateman,, 16 July 2021 More than 300 square miles have burned – an area more than twice the size of Portland – and the National Guard was called in to help with road closures and traffic control. Sarah Brookbank, The Enquirer, 16 July 2021 The Surfside effort is not the first time Indiana has sent emergency workers to help with disasters. Johnny Magdaleno, The Indianapolis Star, 16 July 2021 The Dutch government sent about 70 troops to the southern province of Limburg late Wednesday to help with evacuations and filling sandbags. Time, 16 July 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The difference this season was that Booker usually had plenty of help. David Brandt, ajc, 18 July 2021 Prior to that change, some families who didn't owe taxes were unable to claim the benefit, making the program most of help to middle-income families. Aimee Picchi, CBS News, 16 July 2021 The city’s latest proposal seems to give the A’s plenty of room and financial help for their dream project on the waterfront. Scott Ostler, San Francisco Chronicle, 16 July 2021 The Angels, a club perennially in need of pitching help and picking ninth overall in the MLB draft Sunday, were on the clock. Jack Harris, Los Angeles Times, 13 July 2021 Food retailers and celebrities have responded with offers of help. Marc Bona, cleveland, 10 July 2021 Negative stereotypes about aging can complicate the dynamic between adult children who see their parents in need of help and the parents who are apt to reject anything that identifies them as older or more vulnerable. Alia E. Dastagir, USA TODAY, 8 July 2021 But such extraordinary measures were of little help. New York Times, 7 July 2021 The result is excruciating pain (as well as damage to organs) that often sends people to emergency rooms in search of help. Andrew Joseph, STAT, 7 July 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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Learn More About help

Time Traveler for help

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near help




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Statistics for help

Last Updated

20 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Help.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Jul. 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

Nglish: Translation of help for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of help for Arabic Speakers


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