Definition of help verb from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



; help

make easier/better

1 [intransitive, transitive] to make it easier or possible for somebody to do something by doing something for them or by giving them something that they needHelp, I'm stuck!help with something He always helps with the somebody We must all try and help each somebody with something Jo will help us with some of the (somebody) in doing something I need contacts that could help in finding a somebody (to) do something The college's aim is to help students (to) achieve their aspirations.This charity aims to help people (to) help themselves.Come and help me lift this (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 [intransitive, transitive] to improve a situation; to make it easier for something to happenIt helped being able to talk about it.The money raised will help towards(= partly provide) the cost of organizing the something It doesn't really help matters knowing that everyone is talking about (to) do something This should help (to) reduce the pain.We need new measures to help (to) fight terrorism.

somebody to move

3 [transitive] help somebody + adverb/preposition to help somebody move by letting them lean on you, guiding them, etcShe helped him to his feet.We were helped ashore by local people.

give food/drink

4 [transitive] to give yourself/somebody food, drinks, etchelp yourself If you want another drink, just help yourself/somebody to something Can I help you to some more salad?


5 [transitive] help yourself to something (informal, disapproving) to take something without permission
He'd been helping himself to the money in the cash register.

somebody can (not) help (doing) something


somebody can not help but do something

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.It couldn't be helped(= there was no way of avoiding it and we must accept it).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

to help somebody

God/Heaven help somebody

(informal) used to say that you are afraid somebody will be in danger or that something bad will happen to themGod help us if this doesn't work.
Some people find this use offensive.

so help me (God)

used to swear that what you are saying is true, especially in a court of law
Phrasal verbs

help somebody off/on with something

to help somebody take off/put on a piece of clothingLet me help you off with your coat.

help out


help somebody out

to help somebody, especially in a difficult situationHe's always willing to help out.When I bought the house, my sister helped me out with a loan.