When I help someone, I am the helper, and he is the helpee. But surely there is a better word than this?

I guess you could say "recipient of help" or "beneficiary", but I don't really like either of these.

Edit: Thanks for all the great answers... I think everyone has added something useful - felt I should mark someone as correct, even though I feel I still haven't found the perfect word.

  • 2
    the helped could be used. I think it's rare to use a generic term for this, but instead you describe the person being helped. E.g. a cure for ebola would help the sufferers.
    – Barmar
    Sep 16, 2014 at 21:35
  • The assisted or helped. But I agree that this is pretty abstract and impersonal way to talk about helping people. ;-) These are people whom you have helped.
    – Drew
    Sep 16, 2014 at 22:05
  • beneficiary is much better than helpee, which is likely to cause some what-ee? stares. Why do you not like recipient or beneficiary? Jan 16, 2015 at 0:38
  • beneficiary has negative connotations.
    – Lee
    Jan 16, 2015 at 1:44

5 Answers 5


The entity offering assistance is the server (or the servant).

The entity receiving assistance is the client.

Governments assist client states, computer servers assist client computers, professionals assist clients. Even librarians have started switching their terminology from patrons to clients.

  • I've heard library users called "customers"
    – Lee
    Sep 18, 2014 at 0:57

I agree with Martin Krzywinski's comment above to the effect that a person who benefits from your help can very reasonably and accurately be called the beneficiary. Merriam-Webster's Eleventh Collegiate Dictionary (2003) has this entry for the word:

beneficiary n (1662) 1 : one that benefits from something 2 a : the person designated to receive the income of a trust estate b : the person named (as in an insurance policy) to receive proceeds or benefits.

I'm not sure what negative connotations you associate with these definitions. I suppose you could argue that definitions 2(a) and 2(b) presuppose that someone must die or something bad must happen before the benefits begin to flow to the named beneficiary; that view isn't entirely true, but undoubtedly the connection exists in some instances. However, nothing of the sort applies to situation described in definition 1. For example, a person can be the beneficiary of someone's kindness without there being any need for anyone to suffer a loss.

The only other possible negative connotation of beneficiary I can think of is that it may seem too presumptuous a word for the helper to use. After all, "help" isn't always that helpful, and some attempts to help fail utterly. But when I receive real help from someone, I have no uneasiness about calling myself the beneficiary of that person's aid. And the relationship of helper to helped already implies the idea of a giver and a receiver of benefits, whether you use the word beneficiary or not.

  • In New Zealand, A beneficiary is someone who receives welfare payments from the government. Hence, very negative connotations. Perhaps those connotations are not very international though.
    – Lee
    Feb 19, 2015 at 0:33
  • @Lee: Now I understand—and you're obviously right. Just as you wouldn't (in the United States) refer to someone who receives your help as a "welfare recipient," you certainly wouldn't want to refer to that person in New Zealand by the analogously loaded term "beneficiary." Sorry about the unhelpfulness of my answer above, but thanks for clarifying why beneficiary isn't an appropriate choice where you live.
    – Sven Yargs
    Feb 19, 2015 at 1:48
  • Sven - I think you make a good case for beneficiary, your answer certainly is helpful.
    – Lee
    Feb 19, 2015 at 14:03

Not "the helped". There is almost no circumstance where that would be good English. Instead use "the one helped", "the helped one/person/etc".

Recipient and Beneficiary are totally different - they both mean receivers of something. In the case of Beneficiary, it is usually something good.
Recipient is neutral - one can be the recipient of a gold ingot, or the recipient of 50 lashes. Neither item is, strictly speaking, "helpful".

  • 1
    "almost no circumstances", other than when there's more than one person being helped.
    – Wlerin
    Sep 17, 2014 at 22:28

Mental Health Case Managers are professional helpers. Referring to his/her clients as cases does not do the relationship justice. Manager implies staff; would it make sense to call the helpee, staff? There is a sense that the relationship is therapeutic. Therapeutic implies the helpee get the benefit of doubt (unless you have reason not to) and that the relationship is for the best interest of the client. Treating the client as making sense, is significant, acceptable, and has resources and strengths is essential.


Indeed some terminology can be challenging at times. In the academic setting, it is very clear what we mean when we say mentor and mentee. But in my training of paracounselors, I am not comfortable using counselee because doing so connotes formal training on the part of the paracounselor (which is not the case). My last resort is still helpee.

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