\ ˈhelp How to pronounce help (audio) ; Southern often ˈhep also ˈheəp \
helped; helping; helps

Essential Meaning of help

1 : to do something that makes it easier for someone to do a job, to deal with a problem, etc. : to aid or assist someone Let me help you with that box. = Let me help you lift/carry that box. help a child with her homework = help a child (to) do her homework See More ExamplesI helped her up/down the stairs. [=I gave her support so that she could go up/down the stairs] Help me! I'm drowning! Don't blame me: I was only trying to help! She helped (to) set the table. Help! Somebody call the police!Hide
2 : to make something less severe : to make something more pleasant or easier to deal with Rest helps a cold. She took an aspirin to help her headache. See More ExamplesSome color would really help [=improve] this room. Humor often helps a tense situation. Yelling doesn't help. It's not much money, but every little bit helps.Hide
3 : to give (yourself or another person) food or drink There's plenty of food, so help yourself. [=take as much food as you would like]

Full Definition of help

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to give assistance or support to (someone) : to provide (someone) with something that is useful or necessary in achieving an end How can I help you? He helps the children with their homework. Can you help me get this jar open? She helped him (walk) up/down the stairs.
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 Help us from famine / And plague and strife!— Alfred Tennyson
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

— see also helping hand, helping verb


plural helps

Definition of help (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the act or an instance of doing or supplying something to make it easier for another to complete a task, deal with a problem, etc. : aid, assistance I could use some help with the dishes. We heard cries for help coming from the house. We couldn't have done this without your help. I'm glad I could be of help. [=I'm glad I could help.] — see also self-help
2 : a source of aid She is a help to our efforts. You've been a great help to us. The instructions were no help (at all). He's been more of a hindrance than a help. Turner … and Mackinley … are big helps with their younger siblings.— Julia Lipscombe — see also help desk, help menu, help screen
3 : remedy, relief The situation is beyond help. (somewhat old-fashioned) There was no help for it. I was obliged to tell him the truth.— Wilkie Collins
4 plural usually help
a : employee help wanted usually used in plural but singular or plural in construction Most of the restaurant's summer help is/are college students.
b often offensive : a domestic worker usually used in plural but singular or plural in construction

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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 The Texas law gets around the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme court decision allowing abortions by permitting private citizens to file lawsuits against people who help abortions happen. USA TODAY, 10 Oct. 2021 For some, Carey Price on Thursday became the face of a different franchise, one that will operate best when questions become fewer, help more routine, and victories pile high., 9 Oct. 2021 But with marijuana products used by increasing numbers of Americans, could cannabis, in both its active and medicinal (CBD) forms, help revive the travel industry? Michael Goldstein, Forbes, 9 Oct. 2021 Faith Brumfield, Ursuline Academy – Faith shot a 2 under par 33 on the front nine of California Golf Course to help lead the Ursuline Lions to victory over the St. Ursula Bulldogs. Melanie Laughman, The Enquirer, 9 Oct. 2021 The council said private-equity firms create jobs, support businesses and help provide comfortable retirements for pensioners invested in the strategy. NBC News, 9 Oct. 2021 Overexposure to ultraviolet solar radiation can also reduce immunological defenses, including those that help people recover from COVID-19. John Fialka, Scientific American, 9 Oct. 2021 The Dolphins are expected to activate nose tackle Raekwon Davis off injured reserve, which should help a run defense ranked 27th in the NFL. David Furones,, 9 Oct. 2021 But by directly providing low-cost instructional supports to rural schools, Blair said the Rural Schools Accelerator is a solution that might truly help. al, 8 Oct. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun And if Patrick, Selman or Buntin need help or an extra push, there’s a group chat for that. Michelle R. Martinelli, USA TODAY, 11 Oct. 2021 Yet, the study also found that nearly one in four of the same respondents are not confident in finding help to address these concerns. Cara Mcnulty, Fortune, 10 Oct. 2021 Williams put a great inside move on the CB and there was no safety help over the top with the Aggies blitzing. Michael Casagrande |, al, 10 Oct. 2021 With Walker’s help, JOK will have the confidence to play even faster and take advantage of his speed and ability to blitz. cleveland, 10 Oct. 2021 Police are asking for the public’s help in identifying a man suspected of breaking into a motor vehicle in Roxbury, stealing a wallet, and using credit cards from the wallet to make fraudulent purchases Saturday afternoon, police said., 10 Oct. 2021 The transfer help is appreciated, said a spokesperson for hospital operator Bristol Bay Area Health Corp. Zaz Hollander, Anchorage Daily News, 10 Oct. 2021 Read a comforting excerpt from a favorite self-help or other relaxing book. John Duffy, CNN, 10 Oct. 2021 The couple’s grown children finally persuaded them to accept some help. Carolyn Said, San Francisco Chronicle, 10 Oct. 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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Dictionary Entries Near help




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Statistics for help

Last Updated

12 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Help.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for help


\ 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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