Definition of help in US English:

help

verb

[with object]
  • 1Make it easier for (someone) to do something by offering one's services or resources.

    with object and infinitive ‘she helped him find a buyer’
    no object ‘the teenager helped out in the corner store’
    ‘Roger's companion helped him with the rent’
    • ‘We are not searching for a cure, just the best possible education to help him reach his potential.’
    • ‘There was a secret service agent that was helping me with first aid - he's now the chief of the Capitol Police.’
    • ‘The service includes helping users to get up in the morning, bed baths, and other domestic activities that they may not be able to perform on their own.’
    • ‘Well, I helped out then and Boris is helping me out now.’
    • ‘Sometimes we were helped out by relations and friends with muscles and, of course, the boys chipped in.’
    • ‘This is a voluntary run service which helps families under stress who have children under five years of age.’
    • ‘An advisory service helps parents to buy wheelchairs, braces, special shoes and equipment for their children.’
    • ‘Her colleagues have been helping her in all possible ways, including reading out the latest developments in the field.’
    • ‘Staff work around the clock to ensure these youngsters cram as much into their short years as possible while helping their parents to come to terms with the inevitable.’
    • ‘Its main product is a Web-based service that helps doctors run their practices more efficiently and more profitably.’
    • ‘The service helps client choose the right kind of invitation cards, the grooming and the beauty treatment and the wedding shopping.’
    • ‘Long-term funding is desperately being sought for a voluntary service that helps local victims of domestic violence.’
    • ‘The crazy culture sweeping this country is driving up insurance costs and making vital services think twice before helping us.’
    • ‘Those stories are filtered as little as possible to help the readers find the stories they want.’
    • ‘A mediation service which helps young people at risk of becoming homeless is celebrating its first birthday.’
    • ‘It often includes supporting material that helps readers see why the story is important.’
    • ‘Former librarian Karen Bali has set up a service helping people trace their family and friends.’
    • ‘It is a six-week service which helps elderly clients ‘get back on their feet’.’
    • ‘But he credits his religion and several social service groups with helping him slowly regain a sense of normalcy.’
    • ‘After using the services at a local credit counseling service that helps members with debt reduction, she was able to get on the road to rebuilding her credit.’
    assist, aid, help out, lend a hand to, lend a helping hand to, give assistance to, come to the aid of, succour, aid and abet
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Improve (a situation or problem); be of benefit to.
      ‘upbeat comments about prospects helped confidence’
      no object ‘legislation to fit all new cars with catalytic converters will help’
      ‘sore throats can be helped by gargling’
      • ‘Lizzie's plight was not helped by the death in the past month of her doting dad, Seamus.’
      • ‘Higher density means fewer long commutes, which helps gridlock problems and is good for the environment.’
      • ‘Mackay might as well not be Scottish, for all that it has helped his international prospects.’
      • ‘If donated food is unhealthy, it isn't helping the problem of hunger - it's making it worse.’
      • ‘So, how is this serious problem helped by making it even more difficult for those debts to be repaid?’
      • ‘I think the worst of the weather is over but the continuing rain will not help the situation and it is likely to get colder again.’
      • ‘This situation is not helped by the predicament he has with his wide midfield players.’
      • ‘Attempts to alleviate the sanitation problem were not helped by the Black Death itself.’
      • ‘I don't think this story helps their case exactly.’
      • ‘I don't think what we're doing, like right now, the going back and forth with each other, is really helping the situation.’
      • ‘On the romance front, his case was not helped by the chat-up technique he adopted.’
      • ‘The situation is not helped by the fact that the mist is making the court damp and slippy.’
      • ‘On the question of refugees, suffice to say that the crisis was hardly helped by the bombing campaign itself.’
      • ‘Writing about it like this helps the situation somewhat, mind you.’
      • ‘He also says the connection between drugs and violence helps his case.’
      • ‘The situation isn't helped by the fact he can't remember exactly what he said or did.’
      • ‘I remain unconvinced that the occupation forces are really helping the situation, instead of continuing to antagonize large sections of the people.’
      • ‘Many factors propel the daily newspaper toward its decline, but the present management of the papers are not helping their situation.’
      • ‘A small Yorkshire charity has been helping the plight of Romanian orphans for the past decade.’
      • ‘In Nicaragua today the most obvious need is decent housing and all monies raised from the night will go a long way in helping the situation there.’
      relieve, soothe, ameliorate, alleviate, make better, ease, improve, assuage, palliate, lessen, mitigate
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2with object and adverbial of direction Assist (someone) to move in a specified direction.
      ‘I helped her up’
      • ‘A police spokesman said the driver was helped out of the car by people nearby and that no-one was injured.’
      • ‘One defendant reassured him in his own language, Italian, and he was helped out of a window.’
      • ‘The arena has emptied by the time the stricken fighter is helped out of the ring.’
      • ‘The girl was beside the table before I could even move, helping me down slowly without really touching me too much.’
    3. 1.3help someone on/off with Assist someone to put on or take off (a garment).
      • ‘Uniquely, for so starred an establishment, they only point you towards the loo, rather than walking you there and helping you off with your trousers.’
      • ‘I am of the generation which says treat her as a lady: open the door for her, hold the chair out for her to sit down, help her on with her coat.’
      • ‘Then he helps Paul off with his Wellington boots and wet socks.’
      • ‘When I came home, Andy had taken his place and showed little inclination to get up after I helped R. on with her robe.’
      • ‘After ten minutes, he returned and helped Matt on with his coat.’
      • ‘Martina helps him on with his coat, her proprietary gaze examining his appearance.’
      • ‘He took her to a consulting room and helped her off with her clothes, before indecently touching her.’
      • ‘He helps Justin on with his boots, and laces up a long black leather fingerless glove over Frankie's wrist.’
      • ‘‘A walk sounds good to me,’ replied Jeff, helping Maggie on with her coat.’
      • ‘He walked her out to the car, quickly grabbing his keys and coat and helping Lauren on with her own coat on their way out the door.’
      • ‘‘Nonsense!’ she exclaimed, helping Vera off with her coat.’
      • ‘She would smile as he returned home, helping him off with his lab coat as she explained that dinner would be ready in just a moment.’
      • ‘He was over in a flash, zipped her up, helped her on with her coat: a complete gentleman.’
      • ‘He is fun and opens door and helps me on with my coat.’
      • ‘I turned to the closet and fetched the coats, gloves and hats and took then to the chair and began helping Miss Sussana on with hers while Caroline helped her Mistress.’
      • ‘He helps me on with my coat and we are outside in the cold winter air once again.’
      • ‘‘Oh thank god you're back,’ he said, helping me off with my backpack.’
      • ‘When we got home, I had to help her off with her clothes because she could hardly move for fear of hurting her head.’
      • ‘She pulls her coat from the tall brass coat stand, and to her secret pleasure Doug helps her on with it.’
      • ‘Then you've got to help him off with what's left of his shirt.’
  • 2help oneselfServe someone with (food or drink)

    ‘she helped herself to a cookie’
    • ‘She helps herself to some of the leftovers and everyone notices again.’
    • ‘Sources claim the sexy model and four female friends started helping themselves to spicy chicken wings and alcohol which had been laid out for rap stars.’
    • ‘She eats one of your bananas and helps herself to a yoghurt before the doorbell rings.’
    • ‘Everyone helps themselves to some juicy grilled hamburgers, some plump sausages and some plastic covered hotdogs.’
    • ‘No-one is going to complain if you eat two or three of the pieces, but what would happen if you stood there helping yourself to piece after piece?’
    • ‘I'd read an account of firefighters helping themselves to almond biscotti in the shattered branches of Starbucks in and around Ground Zero, and if you thought hard about it there was real black irony in there somewhere.’
    • ‘Dave pours another plastic cup of sherry and helps himself to his 173rd Cadburys bar while ignoring colleagues' pleas of ‘Those were bought for the whole office, you know!’’
    • ‘The raiders broke into the community centre where the toddler group meets and ransacked four rooms, helping themselves to drinks and chocolate that had been bought for the tots.’
    • ‘We moved close to an extremely scruffy exotic food mart where birds flew around helping themselves to the bulk bins of bulgur and excreting onto the green peppers.’
    • ‘Sat at the kitchen table, with his fiancée, Sarah Wilson, at his side, he spots a bag of crisps and eagerly helps himself, as he recounts his ordeal over the last nine months.’
    • ‘House guests drift in and out of the kitchen, helping themselves to cups of coffee.’
    • ‘They ate food without their mother, helping themselves to chicken pulao, butter lentil and cucumber salad.’
    • ‘It's well stocked with cocktail sausages and party food so don't worry about helping yourself to it all.’
    • ‘At the Bamboo it's basically a question of going in, taking a seat and then helping yourself as many times as you want to all you can eat.’
    • ‘It has been long known that helping yourself frequently to fish can keep your heart from breaking, so to say.’
    • ‘Helping yourself to all of the Parma ham or finishing the milk is just looking for trouble.’
    • ‘He always tries to eat my food and if we have visitors he often gets on to their chair and helps himself.’
    1. 2.1help oneself Take something without permission.
      ‘he helped himself to the wages she had brought home’
      • ‘It simply helps itself to the findings of genuine experimental science without being instrumental in producing any of these findings.’
      • ‘The Competition Commission will criticise store cards for colluding to keep interest rates high, thereby helping themselves to £80m to £100m of extra credit interest.’
      • ‘It's the same as putting your hand into your neighbour's pocket, taking out his or her wallet and helping yourself to its contents.’
      • ‘She complains bitterly when her younger sister helps herself to her cosmetics or clothes, yet seems to think that my rants about her own, er, ‘borrowing’ habits are merely signs of selfishness and bad temper on my part.’
      • ‘Don't go digging into your best friend's suitcase and helping yourself to her cashmere cardigan.’
      • ‘My impression is that this responsiveness is noted and admired abroad, especially in countries whose leaders are in the habit of helping themselves and rewarding their cronies with ever larger slices of the national cake.’
      • ‘A postal worker who stole more than £25,000 by helping himself to pension and child benefit payments has been spared jail.’
      • ‘In many cases their jobs have simply disappeared, gangsters are helping themselves to the nation's treasures and such basic services as electricity and potable water are suddenly no longer reliably available.’
      • ‘She also visits every other table and helps herself to their tiny teddies.’
      • ‘I would have thought the ability to become invisible could only underline the traditional strategy of surreptitiously helping yourself to extra Monopoly money.’
      • ‘The inhabitants of Eriskay earned a reputation as whisky lovers after helping themselves to the precious cargo of the SS Politician, which ran aground off the north-east coast of the island in 1941.’
      • ‘Helping yourself to the bank's money without asking will incur penalties of £30 each time, capped at a ceiling of £90 per month.’
      • ‘Mum and Dad spent the next hour trying to explain that it was alright for them to take the money, that we hadn't just stolen the book and helped ourselves and then left an IOU.’
      • ‘There's no helping yourself to anything: we have to cause as little harm to the people as possible, as little physical damage as possible.’
      • ‘Then he helps himself to a bunch of red roses on Darcy's night stand.’
      • ‘Carr blows his budget by caving in to the public sector unions over the years and therefore helps himself to some extra gaming tax dollars to save the day.’
      • ‘They are only interested in helping themselves to what little you have in your bank account.’
      • ‘So we have a campaign that helps itself to a quarter of a million pounds of your money.’
      • ‘Looters were busily helping themselves to the weapons.’
      • ‘Now, whenever Grandma visits, Zack is careful to whisper for permission in my ear, before reaching out and helping himself.’
      steal, take, appropriate, take possession of, pocket, purloin, commandeer, make free with, use without asking
      View synonyms
  • 3can/could not help oneselfCannot or could not avoid.

    ‘he could not help laughing’
    ‘you can't help but agree’
    • ‘Joan could feel tears well up in her eyes and she couldn't help but love her brother for who he was.’
    • ‘He stared at her thoughtfully, and she couldn't help but notice the intelligence in his eyes.’
    • ‘Evander felt something clutch at him and he also couldn't help but notice who Christian was with.’
    • ‘Even so, he couldn't help but feel inferior to the men gathered in this room.’
    • ‘The following week, when back at home, we couldn't help but think of this video and the impact of it.’
    • ‘As much as Jade despised him, she couldn't help but gush at his gorgeous smile!’
    • ‘I stared over at the picture of Matt and couldn't help but smile at his half-smile.’
    • ‘The referees couldn't help but hear them shouting for the decisions to go our way.’
    • ‘I couldn't help but think that their owners would have felt considerable heartache.’
    • ‘Reviewing my labours over a cup of steaming hot coffee I couldn't help but think it had all been too easy.’
    • ‘He was so full of himself and so confident that he was going to make it big you couldn't help but fall in love with him.’
    • ‘Even as her biceps rippled with pride, I couldn't help but reflect that life is too short.’
    • ‘He was ignorant, and obnoxious, but you still couldn't help but feel sorry for him.’
    • ‘She did a funny little curtsy which Josh and Silver couldn't help but laugh at.’
    • ‘I heard Ted Kennedy speaking last night and couldn't help but notice the man is losing his voice.’
    • ‘This is intended as a condemnation, but I couldn't help but read it as a compliment.’
    • ‘As he got closer to Stuart, he couldn't help but laugh when he saw how filthy she was.’
    • ‘He watched his sister depart sadly and he couldn't help but worry about her.’
    • ‘At the same time, she couldn't help but wonder if she actually had to tell him about the whole encounter.’
    • ‘I hated fighting with her, but the time I couldn't help but feel it was unavoidable.’
    be unable to stop, be unable to prevent oneself from, be unable to refrain from, be unable to keep from, be unable to forbear from, be unable to break the habit of
    View synonyms
    1. 3.1can/could not help oneself Cannot or could not stop oneself from acting in a certain way.
      ‘she couldn't help herself; she burst into tears’
      • ‘Dad had sat there quietly watching Dan take on Brendan and then Joel, but he just couldn't help himself - he had to repeat last year's triumph.’
      • ‘But I couldn't help myself from questioning why he wanted to be with her - surely I was enough for him?’
      • ‘People know it makes no sense to leap on the bonnet of their car as a thief drives it off, but this 83-year-old have-a-go hero couldn't help himself.’
      • ‘I gave away the ending, but it was so good I just couldn't help myself.’
      • ‘I knew I should've stopped there but I couldn't help myself.’
      • ‘You know I hate to laugh at the misfortune of others - in this case though, I couldn't help myself.’
      • ‘We were laughing and laughing and couldn't stop, couldn't help ourselves.’
      • ‘She tried to stop licking her lips but she couldn't help herself.’
      • ‘The feminists were arguing against a dominant view that saw rape as a ‘crime of passion’, the idea that men raped because they saw a sexy woman and couldn't help themselves.’
      • ‘He was wasting his time, of course, but he couldn't help himself.’
      • ‘A middle-aged man could not help himself and said to them, ‘Girls, stop yelling!’’
      • ‘I gave him a big hug and told him he had my total support for his actions today, but then I couldn't help myself from telling him to be most careful of the roads.’
      • ‘Richter probably would have enhanced his chances at getting the new position had he refused to comment, but he couldn't help himself.’
      • ‘I wanted to point out the fact that, well, he couldn't help himself from doing that thing, that thing he was so used to doing, all the time.’
      • ‘I apologize for all the links, but they were all so good that I couldn't help myself.’
      • ‘They cleverly asked her questions, and she couldn't help herself, she couldn't resist answering them.’
      • ‘It was something she got caught up in and couldn't help herself.’
      • ‘Then he couldn't help himself, couldn't stop his eyes from momentarily moving to the cemetery.’
      • ‘Hansen admitted what he did was wrong, but claimed that he couldn't help himself.’
      • ‘I couldn't help myself as indignant words came out of my mouth.’

noun

  • 1The action of helping someone to do something; assistance.

    ‘I asked for help from my neighbors’
    ‘thank you for your help’
    • ‘He added that the posters might be seen by a friend or relative of a violent man who could encourage him to seek help to curb his behaviour.’
    • ‘It has called on Business Link York and North Yorkshire for help and advice to achieve its aim within three years.’
    • ‘God help us should we as a nation ever need unpaid help from our neighbours.’
    • ‘Mrs Clark then heard cries for help from neighbours who had found her son hanging by a ligature from a porch outside his home.’
    • ‘The pilot will work with deaf children of all ages, providing help and advice to those with mental health needs.’
    • ‘With Vincent at the helm the local support group offer help and advice to the asylum seekers.’
    • ‘The next step is to provide your ongoing support while encouraging them to get help.’
    • ‘She gives advice, guidance, help, and motivation to her students at City College.’
    • ‘She went to a neighbour's house for help and the neighbour went to Edna's home and called the police.’
    • ‘All are protected and encouraged to seek help to make the necessary adjustments.’
    • ‘For any neighbour who needs help, be it doing shopping or something else, he is there.’
    • ‘With all this it is the hope that Waterford City will become a litter free zone, but we need your help!’
    • ‘Businesses can tap into a wide range of help and advice on how to make the best use of computer technology at exhibitions next week.’
    • ‘The FBI has also been too reluctant in the past to accept help or advice from other security services.’
    • ‘All of you provided me with invaluable help and advice that aided me to gain my first year certificate with a Merit pass.’
    • ‘A pensioner was able to call on expert help from a neighbour when a fire broke out at her house in Long Compton.’
    • ‘They all escaped after jumping from the top floor of the burning house thanks to their neighbours' help.’
    • ‘Once in treatment caseworkers provide help and advice on keeping drug-free, or finding a job or home.’
    • ‘So tonight, I ask for your help in encouraging your representatives to support my plan.’
    • ‘Eventually, the stray let go long enough for her to get away and find help from a neighbour.’
    assistance, aid, a helping hand, support, succour, advice, guidance, solution
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1in singular A person or thing that helps.
      ‘he was a great help’
      • ‘Upon what in their historical tradition can they safely look back as a guide or a help?’
      • ‘This should be a considerable help to the company as it seeks to expand its overseas empire.’
      • ‘For young people who need to hone their social skills, IM can be more a detour than a help.’
      • ‘The real estate agent was a great help to us, finding this home in Middle Stewiacke.’
      • ‘It would be a great help for both vendors and occupants or employees of the buildings.’
      • ‘He was asked if the early poll which showed him losing his seat had in fact been a help.’
      • ‘Jacob was an awesome help to me too, setting up my floor lamp and my bed, and moving furniture around.’
      • ‘Knowing Gerry, and having seen how well he fitted in at school was a great help to me when I heard the news.’
      • ‘She was a big help at the farm, looking after the children and keeping the house.’
      • ‘A nearby lake or stream can be an important help in fighting fire and damping down afterwards.’
      • ‘For most families with children it is a great help in their daily lives to have a car.’
      • ‘He was a great help to me, videoing me going over fences and correcting mistakes.’
      • ‘He could probably do with getting a bit stronger again, but that strength has been a huge help to him.’
      • ‘From the musicians' point of view, Longshot has been a tremendous help to the city.’
      • ‘I think it would be an interesting discussion for you and it would be a huge help to me.’
      • ‘A lot of the team played for the first time this year, and that would have been a huge help to them next season.’
      • ‘The committee for the old church and the ladies' committee were a great help organising the event.’
      • ‘Of course having two fantastic actors to play the leading characters is a big help.’
      • ‘Proper funding to humanities departments in universities would also be a big help.’
      • ‘Members of the Kilmeena community also come out and have been a tremendous help.’
      support, assistance, aid
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2 A domestic employee.
      ‘she has taught herself to cook since the defection of the last of the village helps’
      ‘the help cleaned up the leftover food and half-drunk cocktails’
      domestic worker, domestic help, domestic servant, cleaner, cleaning woman, cleaning lady, home help, maid, housemaid, housekeeper, servant, hired help, helper, assistant, employee, worker
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3as modifier Giving assistance to a computer user in the form of displayed instructions.
      ‘a help menu’
      • ‘He's got a lovely script translated from the help files to walk you through!’
      • ‘There is a detailed help file and I have found email support adequate for my needs.’
      • ‘According to the help website, it's because using the alt option like this is wrong.’
      • ‘The other main opening tool is the repertoire database, which has good help documentation.’
      • ‘Requiring them to write is like requiring software developers to write good help files.’
      • ‘Why isn't there a help page indicating how I should structure my queries to get the right results?’
      • ‘Do a Windows help search for wireless card properties and power management if you are unsure.’
      • ‘One would think the author never bothered to read Google's help section!’
      • ‘New help topics specifically addressing cookies and cookie management are being added.’
      • ‘As a result the hardware maker agreed to change its source code, user manuals and help screens.’
      • ‘When was the last time you used an online help system or opened a computer software manual?’
      • ‘For help and advice on downloading this clip see the BBC Audio Video help page.’
      • ‘Be sure to check out what all the toolbar buttons do, and browse through the help section, too.’
      • ‘Last time Microsoft patched it by requiring that the help files run from the local file system.’

exclamation

  • Used as an appeal for urgent assistance.

    ‘Help! I'm drowning!’

Phrases

  • so help me (God)

    • Used to emphasize that one means what one is saying.

      • ‘You owe me, and so help me God, if you don't tell me what the hell is going on, I swear I will walk out that door and find a phone to call the police.’
      • ‘I am a dyed-in-the-wool cynic, so help me.’
      • ‘But so help me, I just don't have the strength of will to do it.’
      • ‘If he doesn't, he'll get the left-overs from last night, so help me!’
      • ‘And now that you are mine… so help me God, I'll never let you get away again.’
      • ‘It may have deprived me of the full experience, but so help me, I just can't bring myself to watch the accompanying DVD.’
      • ‘And so help me God, if I ever see another montage again, something terrible is going to happen.’
      • ‘Don't you speak to me that way, Marissa, so help me God!’
      • ‘So help me God, if you stop any member of my staff one more time for another one of your needless questions, you will be dealing with me.’
      • ‘When I put my hand on the Bible, I will swear to not only uphold the laws of our land, I will swear to uphold the honor and dignity of the office to which I have been elected, so help me God.’
  • there is no help for it

    • There is no way of avoiding or remedying a situation.

      • ‘‘Nobody knows how I hated to see the boys go to war,’ Treadway mourned privately, ‘but it seems there is no other way and no help for it.’
      • ‘Still, there was no help for it; war would come eventually.’
      • ‘I'm never going to be able to look at her paws because she won't let me pick her up, so, if that's the case, there's no help for it except to go to the vet.’
      • ‘But there was no help for it at that point, so I turned back and hurried to wash out my hair and scrub my face and teeth.’
      • ‘Of course it usually meant bitterness all over, but he saw no help for it.’
      • ‘They'd overslept, Viviane had missed them, she'd find them out, everything they'd worked for would be lost and there was no help for it.’
      • ‘You are too young for this, but there is no help for it.’
      • ‘It was drastically different from my anonymity when I was dressed as a peasant, and I missed the freedom, but there was no help for it, so I just pretended I couldn't see them and kept walking.’
      • ‘Should we have left the poor creature to lie there dying while marking time for these officials to arrive, finally for them to decide after a few days of waiting that there was no help for it but to shoot it and put it out of its misery at last?’
      • ‘He knew what she was saying, knew there was no help for it.’

Origin

Old English helpan (verb), help (noun), of Germanic origin; related to Dutch helpen and German helfen.

Pronunciation

help

/help//hɛlp/