Word Origin & History
O.E. helpan (class III strong verb; past tense healp, pp. holpen), from P.Gmc. *khelpanan (cf. O.N. hjalpa, O.Fris. helpa, Du. helpen, Ger. helfen), from PIE base *kelb-/*kelp- "to help" (cf. Lith. selpiu "to support, help"). Sense of "serve someone with food at table" (1688) is translated from Fr. servir
"to help, stead, avail," and led to helping "portion of food" (1824). Use of help as euphemism for "servant" is Amer.Eng., 1645, tied up in notions of class and race.
"A domestic servant of American birth, and without negro blood in his or her veins ... is not a servant, but a 'help.' 'Help wanted,' is the common heading of advertisements in the North, when servants are required." [Chas. Mackay, "Life and Liberty in America," 1859].
The M.E. pp. holpen survives in biblical and U.S. dial. use.