Origin: altered from helpmeet
Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Origin: Probably alteration of helpmeet (influenced by mate1).Word History: The existence of the synonyms helpmeet and helpmate is the result of an error compounded. God's promise to Adam in Genesis 2:18, as rendered in the King James version of the Bible (1611), was to give him “an help [helper] meet [fit or suitable] for him.” The poet John Dryden's 1673 use of the phrase “help-meet for man,” with a hyphen between help and meet, was one step on the way toward the establishment of the phrase “help meet” as an independent word. Another was the use of “help meet” without “for man” to mean a suitable helper, usually a spouse, as Eve had been to Adam. Despite such usages, helpmeet was not usually thought of as a word in its own right until the 19th century. Nonetheless, the phrase “help meet” probably played a role in the creation of helpmate, from help and mate, first recorded in 1715.