not able to help

not able to help it

Unable to avoid some outcome or action, either because of some irresistible urge or because of powers outside of one's control. This phrase is often used to defend one's actions as involuntary or unavoidable. I don't want to be late to work every day, but I haven't been able to help it—the public transit strike has totally thrown off the train schedule. I know I should cut down on the cakes and treats in the evening, but I'm just not able to help it!
See also: able, help, not, to
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

not able to help something

unable to prevent or control something. (Not able to is often expressed as can't.) I'm sorry about being late. I wasn't able to help it. Bob can't help being boring.
See also: able, help, not, to
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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References in periodicals archive ?
Sarawak DAP and PKR are a let-down to Sarawak and they are not able to help preserve Sarawak's rights.
Unfortunately, the parents are not able to help on their own with such situations.
Amongst the paperwork was an invoice for PS14,414 for the fitting of 32 windows but during Mr Bate's visits, he said staff had not been not able to help him as to whether the work had been done, adding that his understanding was that it had not been.
Neighbors said they were not able to help the family as the fire had engulfed the house.
The NMC had also contacted the referrer who was not able to help, apart from stating that Ms Rodda may have left the country.
If we are not able to help these children fight cancer, we are failing our future.
But they are not learning anything, and the schools they are in are not able to help them.
Nikki, of Chester-le-Street, said: "We are sorry that we were not able to help you, and that you found yourself in need so much that you felt you had to steal.
In my area the law is quite restrictive, so there are a lot of people who I'm not able to help, which I don't like.
Consequently, the UN is not able to help relatively weak states, while any action against the big powers is fruitless as most have armed themselves to the teeth and insist that the UN has no authority over them.
"We were not able to help get our family out of poverty.
"I think if you have this much power and prestige in the community, none of that is worth it if you're not able to help out in some way," she said.
If mentoring helps others overcome their own fears, she is all for it, she says.<br />"The biggest issue I see in young women is you have fears and sometimes your family is not able to help you push through," Harris says.
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