American English

Definition of help verb from the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary



    Verb Forms present simple I / you / we / they help
    he / she / it helps
    past simple helped
    -ing form helping
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    make easier/better
  1. 1[intransitive, transitive] to make it easier or possible for someone to do something by doing something for them or by giving them something that they need Help, I'm stuck! help with something He always helps with the housework. help somebody We must try to help each other. help somebody with something Jo will help us with some of the organization. help (somebody) in doing something I need contacts that could help me in finding a job. help somebody (to) do something The college's goal is to help students (to) achieve their aspirations. This charity works to help people (to) help themselves. Come and help me lift this box. help (to) do something She helped (to) organize the party. In verb patterns with a to infinitive, the “to” is often left out, especially in informal or spoken English.
  2. 2[intransitive, transitive] to improve a situation; to make it easier for something to happen It helped being able to talk about it. The money raised will help toward (= partly provide) the cost of organizing the championships. help something It doesn't really help matters knowing that everyone is talking about us. help (to) do something This should help (to) reduce the pain. We need new measures to help (to) fight terrorism.
  3. someone to move
  4. 3[transitive] help somebody + adv./prep. to help someone move by letting them lean on you, guiding them, etc. She helped him to his feet. We were helped ashore by local people.
  5. give food/drink
  6. 4[transitive] to give yourself/someone food, drinks, etc. help yourself If you want another drink, just help yourself. help yourself/somebody to something Can I help you to some more salad?
  7. steal
  8. 5[transitive] help yourself to something (informal) (disapproving) to take something without permission synonym steal He'd been helping himself to the money in the cash register.
  9. Idioms
    somebody can (not) help (doing) something, somebody can not help but do something
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     used to say that it is impossible to prevent or avoid something I can't help thinking he knows more than he has told us. He can't help being ugly. She couldn't help but wonder what he was thinking. He never does more work than he can help (= he does as little as possible). I always end up having an argument with her, I don't know why, I just can't help it. I couldn't help it if the bus was late (= it wasn't my fault). She burst out laughing—she couldn't help herself (= couldn't stop herself). She won't be invited again,not if I can help it (= if I can do anything to prevent it).
    give/lend a helping hand
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    to help someone
    God/Heaven help somebody (informal)
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    used to say that you are afraid someone will be in danger or that something bad will happen to them God help us if this doesn't work. Some people find this use offensive.
    it can't be helped
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    used to say that there is no way of avoiding a bad situation It couldn't be helped (= there was no way of avoiding it and we must accept it).
    so help me (God)
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    used to swear that what you are saying is true, especially in a court of law
    Phrasal Verbshelp somebody off/on with somethinghelp out
See the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary entry: help