Help vs Altruism - What's the difference?

help | altruism |

As nouns the difference between help and altruism

is that help is (uncountable) action given to provide assistance; aid while altruism is regard for others, both natural and moral without regard for oneself; devotion to the interests of others; brotherly kindness; selflessness; contrasted with egoism or selfishness .

As a verb help

is to provide assistance to (someone or something).

Other Comparisons: What's the difference?



Etymology 1

From (etyl), from (etyl) .


  • (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."
    Usage notes
    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.
    * (action given to provide assistance) aid, assistance * (person or persons who provide assistance) * (person employed to help in the maintenance of a house)
    Derived terms
    * cry for help * help desk * helpful * helpless * helpline * helply * helpmate * helpmeet * helpsome * home help * self-help

    Etymology 2

    From (etyl) helpen, from (etyl) . Cognate with (etyl) .


  • To provide assistance to (someone or something).
  • * {{quote-magazine, date=2013-06-22, volume=407, issue=8841, page=76, magazine=(The Economist)
  • , title= Snakes and ladders , passage=Risk is everywhere.
  • To contribute in some way to.
  • To provide assistance.
  • * {{quote-book, year=1963, author=(Margery Allingham), title=(The China Governess)
  • , chapter=19 citation , passage=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.}}
  • * {{quote-magazine, date=2013-06-29, volume=407, issue=8842, page=72-3, magazine=(The Economist)
  • , title= A punch in the gut , passage=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.}}
  • To avoid; to prevent; to refrain from; to restrain (oneself). Usually used in nonassertive contexts with can .
  • Usage notes
    * 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
    * (provide assistance to) aid, assist, come to the aid of, help out * (contribute in some way to) contribute to * (provide assistance) assist
    Derived terms
    * a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down * can't help * helper * helping * help oneself * help out



    (en noun)
  • Regard for others, both natural and moral without regard for oneself; devotion to the interests of others; brotherly kindness; selflessness; contrasted with egoism or selfishness .
  • *, chapter=16
  • , title= The Mirror and the Lamp , passage=The preposterous altruism too!
  • * 1995 , George E. Vaillant, The Wisdom of the Ego , page 68,
  • Altruism' allows doing for others as one would be done by. Unlike reaction formation, which also gives to the object what the self desires, '''altruism''' leaves the self at least partly gratified. Unlike reaction formation, '''altruism''' tempers asceticism with pleasure. Unlike passive aggression and martyrdom, '''altruism''' allows the object to feel blessed and not afflicted. ' Altruism attracts people to the user; martyrdom repels them even as it holds them close in chains.
  • (biology, sociobiology) Action or behaviour that benefits another or others at some cost to the performer.
  • * 2013 December 24, Laura Spinney, Goodwill hunting: Random ants of kindness'', ''(New Scientist) ,
  • Altruism' is a behaviour of an individual that benefits another at its own expense.Being nice to relatives is not pure ' altruism because they share your genes so, by helping them, you promote your own genetic heritage.


    * (regard for others) philanthropy * (action benefiting others at cost to oneself) philanthropy


    * (regard for others) egoism, misanthropy (hatred of human race), selfishness

    See also

    * agape (spiritual love for others) * bell the cat * brotherly love * misandry (hatred of males) * misogyny (hatred of females) * selflessness