Idioms for help

Origin of help

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


1 encourage, befriend; support, second, uphold, back, abet. 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.
3 further, promote, foster.
6 ameliorate.
7 alleviate, cure, heal.
12 support, backing.


3, 11 hinder.


usage note for help

21. Help but, in sentences like She's so clever you can't help but admire her, has been condemned by some as the ungrammatical version of cannot help admiring her, but the idiom is common in all kinds of speech and writing and can only be characterized as standard. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for so help me

/ (hɛlp) /




used to ask for assistance
See also help out

Derived forms of help

helpable, adjectivehelper, noun

Word Origin for help

Old English helpan; related to Old Norse hjalpa, Gothic hilpan, Old High German helfan
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Idioms and Phrases with so help me (1 of 2)

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.”

Idioms and Phrases with so help me (2 of 2)


In addition to the idioms beginning with help

  • helping hand
  • help oneself
  • help out

also see:

  • can't help but
  • every little bit helps
  • not if one can help it
  • so help me
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.