v. helped, help·ing, helps
a. To give assistance to (someone); make it easier for (someone) to do something; aid: She helped me with my project. I helped her find her book.
b. To give material or financial aid to: help the homeless.
c. To wait on, as in a store or restaurant: Please help the customer in aisle 20.
a. To contribute to the effectiveness or improvement of (something); improve or advance: tax breaks to help create jobs; new ways to help the environment; a remark that didn't help the situation.
b. To ease the pain or discomfort of; relieve: medication to help your cold.
3. To refrain from; avoid or resist. Used with can or cannot: couldn't help laughing.
1. To be of service; give assistance: I made a cake, and my friend helped.
2. To be of use or provide relief: He has a bad back, and physical therapy hasn't helped.
1. The action of helping; assistance: Do you need help with that package?
2. One that helps: You've been a great help. A food processor is a help to the serious cook.
a. Archaic A person employed to help, especially a farm worker or domestic servant.
b. Such employees considered as a group. Often used with the.
help (oneself) to
1. To serve or provide oneself with: Help yourself to the cookies.
2. Informal To take (something) without asking permission: The thief even helped himself to the spare change in the jar.
help (someone) off
To assist (someone) in taking off a piece of clothing: Help me off with these boots.
help (someone) on
To assist in putting on a piece of clothing: Help your grandmother on with her coat.
[Middle English helpen, from Old English helpan.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.