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Help

sb. help

help has the meaning of “assist”; it has also the somewhat opposed meaning of “prevent, hinder, or refrain from.” This veiled negative makes the correct application of the word difficult. Take, for example, the sentence “Make no more noise than you can help.” I can not help doing a thing is I can not refrain from doing it: that is, I can not not do it, which means I must do it. The correct form of the sentence just given is shown by filling in the ellipsis, whence it appears that not should also be supplied: “Make no more noise than (such as) you can (not ) help (making).” Help includes aid, but aid may fall short of the meaning of help.