can't help


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can't help (doing something)

1. To have a compulsion to do something that is too strong to ignore or avoid. We can't help intervening here, before you throw your life away on drugs! My mom can't help meddling in my love life, even though I'm 30 years old!
2. To have no control over or be unable to avoid some action. I know you're irritated, but they couldn't help arriving late—the whole city is locked in a traffic jam. I know it's silly, but I can't help feeling like I failed you somehow.
See also: help

can't help

Also, can't help but or cannot but . Be unable to do otherwise. For example, I can't help thinking that the keys will turn up eventually, or He couldn't help but believe he would pass the entrance exam, or I cannot but applaud his efforts. The first of these phrases, can't help, is always followed by a present participle whereas the others take an infinitive. [c. 1700]
See also: help
References in periodicals archive ?
Reading the art criticism that accompanied Meyer Vaisman's late-'80s rise from East Village scenester to neo-geo celebrity, you can't help but notice how certain adjectives keep cropping up: cynical, calculated, and above all, slick.
These are working-class fundamentalist Christians who can't help viewing Stacy as damned but who'll whup anyone who dares touch a hair on her head.
You can't help but wonder if somehow the sculptures serve an apotropaic function: whether Meier isn't rehearsing the destruction of his pristine buildings An advance, hoping thereby to ward it off.
It's so beautiful one can't help but wish there were more such plain, unadorned moments on the record.
Misguided yet never malicious, she loves her characters with a big, bountiful heart that just can't help sloshing all over the page.
As a resounding clackety-clack-clack fills the air and cheap metaphors for celebration flash through your mind, you can't help but find yourself hoping for the little trains to jump their tracks and smack into one another.
"I've never found the `I can't help it' argument very persuasive or very helpful in the politics of sexuality," she says.
(How many people like to admit they've had rhinoplasty?) On the one hand, you can't help but wonder where she found a surgeon willing to wear a spangly black-and-silver getup during an operation.
I can't help but send him messages that I miss him.
As the weather gets warmer you can't help noticing there's more bare flesh on display as you walk around the city...
having a load I can't help the Big will serve up by the bucketful.
EMILIANO Sala's father has said he can't help thinking the worst as hours go by in the search for the plane the striker was travelling on.
For this reason I can't help but see organized religion as a major accomplice--through the sin of silence--in the continued economic hopelessness of a growing majority of people on this planet, a hopelessness that also causes environmental degradation.
"While we appreciate your comments, I can't help but get a sense of frustration," said NAIC President Kathleen Sebelius.
"As I consider the breadth and diversity of your field today," Bogle said, "I can't help but observe that of all the types of financial advisers, the group that seems most likely to be aligned with my philosophy of stewardship is CPA Personal Financial Specialists."
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