verb (used with object)
verb (used without object)
- to serve oneself; take a portion of: Help yourself to the cake.
- 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.
Origin of help
Synonyms for help
Antonyms for help
- to avoid or refrain fromwe can't help wondering who he is
- (usually foll by it)to prevent or be responsible forI can't help it if it rains
- to serve (someone with food, etc) (usually in the phrase help oneself)may I help you to some more vegetables?; help yourself to peas
- to provide (oneself with) without permissionhe's been helping himself to money out of the petty cash
- on my honour
- no matter whatso help me, I'll get revenge
- a person hired for a job; employee, esp a farm worker or domestic servant
- (functioning as singular)several employees collectively
Word Origin for help
Old English help (m.), helpe (f.) "assistance, succor;" see help (v.). Most Germanic languages also have the noun form, cf. Old Norse hjalp, Swedish hjälp, Old Frisian helpe, Dutch hulp, Old High German helfa, German Hilfe. Use of help as euphemism for "servant" is American English, 1640s, tied up in notions of class and race.
A domestic servant of American birth, and without negro blood in his or her veins ... is not a servant, but a 'help.' 'Help wanted,' is the common heading of advertisements in the North, when servants are required. [Chas. Mackay, "Life and Liberty in America," 1859].
Though help also meant "assistant, helper, supporter" in Middle English (c.1200).
Old English helpan (class III strong verb; past tense healp, past participle holpen) "help, support, succor; benefit, do good to; cure, amend," from Proto-Germanic *helpan (cf. Old Norse hjalpa, Old Frisian helpa, Middle Dutch and Dutch helpen, Old High German helfan, German helfen), from PIE root *kelb- "to help" (cf. Lithuanian selpiu "to support, help").
Recorded as a cry of distress from late 14c. Sense of "serve someone with food at table" (1680s) is translated from French servir "to help, stead, avail," and led to helping "portion of food." Related: Helped (c.1300). The Middle English past participle holpen survives in biblical and U.S. dialectal use.
so help me
Also, so help me God. I swear that what I am saying is true, as in So help me, I haven't enough cash to pay for the tickets, or I wasn't there, so help me God. This idiom became a formula for swearing a formal oath and is still so used in courts of law for swearing in a witness (I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God). It was first recorded in 1508 as “So help me, our Lord.”
In addition to the idioms beginning with help
- helping hand
- help oneself
- help out
- can't help but
- every little bit helps
- not if one can help it
- so help me