\ 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 Winfrey, 20, was last seen in Mt. Vernon in early January, according to a GoFundMe page created to raise money to help find her. Shari Rudavsky, The Indianapolis Star, 7 May 2022 To help the public identify the pair, the Marshals Service also released an image showing the height difference between the two, as well as their height compared to the Ford Edge SUV they are believed to have escaped in. Elizabeth Wolfe, CNN, 6 May 2022 Sisters in Crime have programs to help emerging writers, grants for aspiring authors of color, for LGBTQ+ writers. Lauren Daley,, 6 May 2022 However, the Greater Zion tourism office also suggests downloading Waze as one of the ways to help navigate traffic and detours. The Salt Lake Tribune, 6 May 2022 And by golly, Addison Freaking Montgomery will bring all the generations together in the OR to help this woman. Lincee Ray,, 6 May 2022 The Celtics have defended him mainly with one-on-one coverage (and help when necessary) led by Al Horford. Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY, 6 May 2022 The responsibility to provide for them prevented me from going to Ukraine and finding a way to help from here. Txell Hernández-gil, Vogue, 6 May 2022 The app also offers a calling card feature, a two-digit and color combination to help passengers find their drivers in congested areas. Emily Deletter, The Enquirer, 6 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The state Emergency Management Agency said the disaster was likely too small to qualify for help. Bracey Harris, NBC News, 6 May 2022 Over the past five weeks, many Shanghai residents have taken to social media to call for help and vent their anger over severe food shortages and lack of access to medical care. Nectar Gan, CNN, 6 May 2022 Authorities recovered the body of a hiker a day after people reported hearing someone yelling for help in the near a mountain trail in Southern California. CBS News, 5 May 2022 Lynn grabbed her phone from the nightstand, locked herself in the bathroom, and called for help. Longreads, 5 May 2022 Here is information on how to spot a toxic relationships, how to leave an abuser and where to find resources for help. cleveland, 5 May 2022 This partnership moves that timeline up in Cincinnati and will soon allow those who call 911 to be routed to Talbert House professionals for help. Cameron Knight, The Enquirer, 5 May 2022 In its own statement, the LAPD said the department had not requested assistance from Federal Protective Service during the protests and that its officers had not been working in conjunction with the federal officers who called for help. Kevin Rectorstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 5 May 2022 When Russian tanks rolled into Ukraine, few analysts predicted that days later Russian troops would be crying on camera, texting their parents for help, and voluntarily surrendering to Ukrainian forces. Max Z. Margulies And Laura Resnick Samotin, WSJ, 5 May 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

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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

9 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Help.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 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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