can't help

(redirected from can't help but)

can't help (doing something)

1. To have a compulsion to do something that is too strong to ignore or avoid. The verb used after "help" typically ends in "-ing." 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
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