From Middle English, from Old English help (“help, aid, assistance, relief”), from Proto-Germanic *helpō (“help”), *hilpiz, *hulpiz, from Proto-Indo-European *ḱelb-, *ḱelp- (“to help”). Cognate with West Frisian help (“help”), Dutch hulp (“help”), Swedish hjälpa (“to help”), German Hilfe (“help, aid, assistance”), Danish hjælp (“help”), Norwegian hjelp (“help”).
- (uncountable) Action given to provide assistance; aid.
- I need some help with my homework.
- (usually uncountable) Something or someone which provides assistance with a task.
- He was a great help to me when I was moving house.
- I've printed out a list of math helps.
- Documentation provided with computer software, etc. and accessed using the computer.
- I can't find anything in the help about rotating an image.
- (usually uncountable) One or more people employed to help in the maintenance of a house or the operation of a farm or enterprise.
- The help is coming round this morning to clean.
- Most of the hired help is seasonal, for the harvest.
- (uncountable, euphemistic) Correction of deficits, as by psychological counseling or medication or social support or remedial training.
- His suicide attempts were a cry for help.
- He really needs help in handling customer complaints.
- "He's a real road-rager." / "Yup, he really needs help, maybe anger management."
The sense "people employed to help in the maintenance of a house" is usually an uncountable mass noun. A countable form - "a hired help", "two hired helps" - is attested, but now less common.
For usage examples of this term, see the citations page.
- (action given to provide assistance): aid, assistance
- (person or persons who provide assistance):
- (person employed to help in the maintenance of a house):
From Middle English helpen, from Old English helpan (“to help, aid, assist, benefit, relieve, cure”), from Proto-Germanic *helpaną (“to help”), from Proto-Indo-European *ḱelb-, *ḱelp- (“to help”). Cognate with West Frisian helpe (“to help”), Low German helpen (“to help”), Dutch helpen (“to help”), German helfen (“to help”), Danish hjælpe (“to help”), Norwegian hjelpe (“to help”).
- (transitive) To provide assistance to (someone or something).
2013 June 22, “Snakes and ladders”, The Economist, volume 407, number 8841, page 76:
- Risk is everywhere. […] For each one there is a frighteningly precise measurement of just how likely it is to jump from the shadows and get you. “The Norm Chronicles” […] aims to help data-phobes find their way through this blizzard of risks.
- He helped his grandfather cook breakfast.
- (transitive) To contribute in some way to.
- The white paint on the walls helps make the room look brighter.
- If you want to get a job, it helps to have some prior experience.
- (intransitive) To provide assistance.
1963, Margery Allingham, chapter 19, The China Governess:
- As soon as Julia returned with a constable, Timothy, who was on the point of exhaustion, prepared to give over to him gratefully. The newcomer turned out to be a powerful youngster, fully trained and eager to help, and he stripped off his tunic at once.
2013 June 29, “A punch in the gut”, The Economist, volume 407, number 8842, page 72-3:
- Mostly, the microbiome is beneficial. It helps with digestion and enables people to extract a lot more calories from their food than would otherwise be possible. Research over the past few years, however, has implicated it in diseases from atherosclerosis to asthma to autism.
- She was struggling with the groceries, so I offered to help.
- Please, help!
- (transitive) To avoid; to prevent; to refrain from; to restrain (oneself). Usually used in nonassertive contexts with can.
- We couldn’t help noticing that you were late.
- We couldn’t help but notice that you were late.
- She’s trying not to smile, but she can’t help herself.
- Can I help it if I'm so beautiful?
- Can I help it that I fell in love with you?
- Are they going to beat us? Not if I can help it!
- Use 3 is often used in the imperative mood as a call for assistance.
- In uses 1, 2 and 3, this is a catenative verb that takes the to infinitive. It can also take the bare infinitive with no change in meaning.
- In use 4, can't help is a catenative verb that takes the gerund (-ing) or, with but, the bare infinitive.
- For more information, see Appendix:English catenative verbs
- (provide assistance to): aid, assist, come to the aid of, help out
- (contribute in some way to): contribute to
- (provide assistance): assist
- to help