\ 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 outhelps 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 collectivelythe 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 Parishioner Tassie Towry-Jenkins dropped by the church to look at the damage and couldn’t help but shake her head. Steve Rubenstein,, "San Carlos minister uses divine inspiration, cameras to track anti-LGBTQ vandals," 4 July 2020 Officials will work with local non-profits who help immigrants communities to distribute the funds. Jessica Flores, USA TODAY, "Coronavirus updates: US surpasses 52K daily cases; Jersey Shore open, California beaches closed for July 4th; Texas mask mandate begins," 4 July 2020 Diamondbacks closer Archie Bradley believes the return of baseball can help people heal after they were scarred by the coronavirus pandemic. Nick Piecoro, The Arizona Republic, "Diamondbacks pitcher Archie Bradley says family is ‘lucky’ after COVID-19 scare," 4 July 2020 In addition, Robinson allegedly had his married girlfriend Cecily Anne Aguilar, 22, help bury Guillen's body. Fox News, "Sister and family attorney of slain Texas soldier Vanessa Guillen call for congressional investigation," 4 July 2020 The industry, where high-paying checks help support the broader economy, has been rocked by low oil prices caused in part by low demand as people stayed home during the pandemic. Alex Demarban, Anchorage Daily News, "Thousands of Alaskans returned to work in May, but jobless claims remained ‘staggering’," 3 July 2020 Public health officials told a Senate committee Thursday that a panel of experts outside the U.S. government may help decide who gets the eventual COVID-19 vaccine first. Jason Silverstein, CBS News, "Panel of experts outside the government could determine who gets the COVID-19 vaccine first, NIH director says," 3 July 2020 Having largely funded the Rail Club Live through his work as an emergency response contractor, Polone hoped his hazmat background would help keep the venue open. Jeremy Hallock, Dallas News, "Fort Worth bar plans July 4 concert in defiance of shutdown order," 3 July 2020 Researchers also believe that observing changes in the methylation patterns before and after the use of anti-aging products could help veterinarians make more informed decisions in terms of diagnostics and treatment. Francesca Giuliani-hoffman, CNN, "Nope, every dog year isn't equal to 7 human years, researchers now say," 3 July 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Onlookers called for help after the big cat began attacking the keeper around 1 p.m. local time, the Zurich zoo said in a statement. Fox News, "Siberian tiger kills Swiss zookeeper in enclosure as visitors watch," 6 July 2020 State police have in recent weeks mostly declined the bureau’s regular requests for help, Boyle said, but Tuesday night was an exception. oregonlive, "Gov. Kate Brown urges Portland police to de-escalate protests to avoid ‘senseless cycle of violence’," 4 July 2020 Finding affordable child care has long been a problem in the United States, but the pandemic has caused a unique challenge: Families can no longer rely on grandparents for help. Washington Post, "The big factor holding back the U.S. economic recovery: Child care," 3 July 2020 Residents called 911 desperate for help, but dispatchers were overwhelmed. New York Times, "‘They Have Lost Control’: Why Minneapolis Burned," 3 July 2020 The officers had been responding to calls for help, according to Kansas City Police Chief Richard Smith. Mallika Kallingal And Hollie Silverman, CNN, "2 Kansas City police officers shot in separate incidents," 2 July 2020 To make up for the loss of volunteers, Meals on Wheels employee have dropped their daily duties to make deliveries, according to the call for help. Krista Torralva,, "Meals on Wheels San Antonio ‘in peril,’ calls for volunteers to help during coronavirus pandemic," 2 July 2020 So, at her mother’s request, Seguin wrote Parliament, pleading for help. Tresa Baldas, Detroit Free Press, "Our parents are sick and dying, but Canada won't let us in," 1 July 2020 President of the League of United Latin American Citizens Domingo Garcia, who the family reached out to for help, agreed. CBS News, "Family of missing Fort Hood soldier Vanessa Guillen accuses Army of "covering up for each other"," 30 June 2020

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

7 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Help.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for help


How to pronounce help (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for help

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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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