View synonyms for help


[ help ]

verb (used with object)

  1. to give or provide what is necessary to accomplish a task or satisfy a need; contribute strength or means to; render assistance to; cooperate effectively with; aid; assist:

    He planned to help me with my work. Let me help you with those packages.

    Synonyms: abet, back, uphold, second, support, befriend, encourage

  2. to save; rescue; succor:

    Help me, I'm falling!

  3. to make easier or less difficult; contribute to; facilitate:

    The exercise of restraint is certain to help the achievement of peace.

    Synonyms: foster, promote, further

    Antonyms: hinder

  4. to be useful or profitable to:

    Her quick mind helped her career.

  5. to refrain from; avoid (usually preceded by can or cannot ):

    He can't help doing it.

  6. to relieve or break the uniformity of:

    Small patches of bright color can help an otherwise dull interior.

    Synonyms: ameliorate

  7. to relieve (someone) in need, sickness, pain, or distress.

    Synonyms: heal, cure, alleviate

    Antonyms: afflict

  8. to remedy, stop, or prevent:

    Nothing will help my headache.

  9. to serve food to at table (usually followed by to ):

    Help her to salad.

  10. to serve or wait on (a customer), as in a store.

verb (used without object)

  1. to give aid; be of service or advantage:

    Every little bit helps.

    Antonyms: hinder


  1. the act of helping; aid or assistance; relief or succor.

    Synonyms: backing, support

  2. a person or thing that helps:

    She certainly is a help in an emergency.

    Antonyms: hindrance

  3. a hired helper; employee.
  4. a body of such helpers.
  5. a domestic servant or a farm laborer.
  6. means of remedying, stopping, or preventing:

    The thing is done, and there is no help for it now.

  7. Older Use. helping ( def 2 ).


  1. (used as an exclamation to call for assistance or to attract attention.)

verb phrase

  1. to assist in an effort; be of aid to:

    Her relatives helped out when she became ill.


/ hɛlp /


  1. to assist or aid (someone to do something), esp by sharing the work, cost, or burden of something

    she helped him climb out of the boat

    he helped his friend to escape

  2. to alleviate the burden of (someone else) by giving assistance
  3. tr to assist (a person) to go in a specified direction

    help the old lady up from the chair

  4. to promote or contribute to

    to help the relief operations

  5. to cause improvement in (a situation, person, etc)

    crying won't help

  6. tr; preceded by can, could, etc; usually used with a negative
    1. to avoid or refrain from

      we can't help wondering who he is

    2. usually foll by it to prevent or be responsible for

      I can't help it if it rains

  7. to alleviate (an illness, etc)
  8. tr to serve (a customer)

    can I help you, madam?

  9. trfoll byto
    1. to serve (someone with food, etc) (usually in the phrase help oneself )

      help yourself to peas

      may I help you to some more vegetables?

    2. to provide (oneself with) without permission

      he's been helping himself to money out of the petty cash

  10. cannot help but
    to be unable to do anything else except

    I cannot help but laugh

  11. help a person off with
    to assist a person in the removal of (clothes)
  12. help a person on with
    to assist a person in the putting on of (clothes)
  13. so help me
    1. on my honour
    2. no matter what

      so help me, I'll get revenge


  1. the act of helping, or being helped, or a person or thing that helps

    she's a great help

  2. a helping
    1. a person hired for a job; employee, esp a farm worker or domestic servant
    2. functioning as singular several employees collectively
  3. a means of remedy

    there's no help for it


  1. used to ask for assistance

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Usage Note

Cannot/can't help but has been condemned by some as the ungrammatical version of cannot/can’t help followed by the present participle: You can’t help but admire her. You can’t help admiring her. However, the idiom Cannot/can't help but is so common in all types of speech and writing that it must be characterized as standard.

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Derived Forms

  • ˈhelpable, adjective
  • ˈhelper, noun

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Other Words From

  • helpa·ble adjective
  • under·help noun
  • un·helpa·ble adjective
  • un·helped adjective
  • well-helped adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of help1

First recorded before 900; Middle English helpen, Old English helpan; cognate with German helfen

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Word History and Origins

Origin of help1

Old English helpan; related to Old Norse hjalpa, Gothic hilpan, Old High German helfan

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Idioms and Phrases

  1. cannot / can't help but, to be unable to refrain from or avoid; be obliged to:

    Still, you can't help but admire her.

  2. help oneself to,
    1. to serve oneself; take a portion of:

      Help yourself to the cake.

    2. to take or use without asking permission; appropriate:

      They helped themselves to the farmer's apples. Help yourself to any of the books we're giving away.

  3. so help me, (used as a mild form of the oath “so help me God”) I am speaking the truth; on my honor:

    That's exactly what happened, so help me.

More idioms and phrases containing help

  • can't help but
  • every little bit helps
  • not if one can help it
  • so help me

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Synonym Study

Help, aid, assist, succor agree in the idea of furnishing another with something needed, especially when the need comes at a particular time. Help implies furnishing anything that furthers one's efforts or relieves one's wants or necessities. Aid and assist, somewhat more formal, imply especially a furthering or seconding of another's efforts. Aid implies a more active helping; assist implies less need and less help. To succor, still more formal and literary, is to give timely help and relief in difficulty or distress: Succor him in his hour of need.

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Example Sentences

In that situation, had there been a number to call to get the help of social workers, the result might have been different, according to Schwartz.

From Vox

Don’t try to fix a ballot with tape or correction fluid if you mess up, and don’t be embarrassed to ask for help.

Eighty-five percent of restaurants will probably close if we don’t get some help from the government.

From Ozy

Extra step — check whether your structured data actually works with the help of Google’s Rich Result Test.

The legislation offered limited help to tenants of the Galleria.

That strategy has been used in some cases to help determine GMO policy.

In the end, the clarity that comes from moments of horror can help us recommit to deeper principles.

Sadly, it appears the American press often doesn't need any outside help when it comes to censoring themselves.

A Wall Street person should not be allowed to help oversee the Dodd-Frank reforms.

Finding the common bonds that help us realize that we have far more in common than that which separates us.

And to tell the truth, she couldn't help wishing he could see, so he could make the game livelier.

Then with your victorious legions you can march south and help drive the Yankee invaders from the land.

In fact, except for Ramona's help, it would have been a question whether even Alessandro could have made Baba work in harness.

Terror drives you on; fate coerces you; you can't help yourself, and my delight is to make the plunge terrible.

There is always in the background of my mind dread lest help should reach the enemy before we have done with Sedd-el-Bahr.


Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.