\ 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 (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

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The food sets the tone for a long ride, and a sufficient stock of goodies can help eliminate hangry outbursts, desperation gas-station junk food and maybe even those trips to the drive-through window. Becky Krystal, Washington Post, 30 July 2022 Lauren’s background in lifestyle media and service journalism has given her the tools to find fresh, engaging ways to help readers feel inspired and empowered to improve their homes and lives in ways large and small. Lauren Phillips, Better Homes & Gardens, 30 July 2022 George Clemmer, 71, was riding his bicycle in the bike lane of Massachusetts Avenue near Boston Symphony Hall on July 13 when he was struck, according to a GoFundMe fund-raiser organized to help his family with expenses. John Hilliard,, 30 July 2022 President Biden approved a disaster declaration for Kentucky Friday, offering federal funds to help with the recovery efforts. Alicia A. Caldwell, WSJ, 30 July 2022 But despite the obstacles colleges and universities face in providing comprehensive mental health resources, there are actions schools can take now to offer more immediate relief and help mitigate the ongoing crisis on campuses nationwide. Megan Leonhardt, Fortune, 30 July 2022 The National Guard has mobilized to help people in multiple counties across the eastern portion of the commonwealth. Caleb Stultz, USA TODAY, 29 July 2022 The class toured the historical society to gain insight and perhaps some information to help with their projects. Linda G. Kramer, cleveland, 29 July 2022 In an average day, McKay — who also coaches outfielders — spends the majority of his time painstakingly breaking down video to help with base running. Theo Mackie, The Arizona Republic, 29 July 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Is Jack going to continue seeking help for his PTSD, his guilt over his brother, and his drinking? Maureen Lee Lenker,, 29 July 2022 Buyers who experienced unexplained symptoms after eating the Dole salad mix products in the recall should consider seeking medical help. Chris Smith, BGR, 28 July 2022 The audit found a lack of clear metrics and poor communication created confusion for water districts seeking help and slowed down the award process. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, 28 July 2022 Rebecca Brubaker, the executive director of the Arkansas Crisis Center, said the change will be good for those seeking help with suicidal thoughts. Remington Miller, Arkansas Online, 16 July 2022 Sri Lanka is seeking help from the International Monetary Fund and other creditors, but its finances are so poor that even obtaining a bailout has proven difficult, Wickremesinghe recently said. Krishan Francis,, 16 July 2022 Sri Lanka is seeking help from the International Monetary Fund and other creditors, but its finances are so poor that even obtaining a bailout has proven difficult, Wickremesinghe recently said. Anchorage Daily News, 15 July 2022 But apparently hundreds, if not thousands, of Russians and non-ethnic Russians alike are seeking help to get out of contracts or be spared from going to Ukraine. Amy Kellogg, Fox News, 14 July 2022 In other instances, the complaint alleges the same nurse inappropriately touched women who’d come to him seeking medical help. Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN, 14 July 2022 See More

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.

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

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

1 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Help.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Aug. 2022.

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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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