Interfere is defined by the Cambridge Online Dictionary as:

to involve yourself in a situation when your involvement is not wanted or is not helpful

I am looking for a word that has essentially the same meaning but does not have the negative connotation of "not helpful."

For example, if I have a teaching assistant who will be teaching a class, I could say:

If I wish to, I will interfere.

I considered 'intervene' but it seems to be about solving problems or difficult situations which I do not want to imply. I want to say in the example that I can interfere (in the class) whenever I decide regardless of problems.


3 Answers 3


Based on the post and comments' description, I think an appropriate phrase would be:

step in CED

to become involved in a difficult situation or argument in order to help find a solution:

An outside buyer has stepped in to save the company from going out of business.

The AmE version of the definition just has to become involved (which as an AmE speaker I tend to agree with), so note the potential differences. I usually take it to mean "I am stepping in because I think I can be helpful" which doesn't necessitate an objectively difficult situation. For example:

I noticed that the class's conversation was drifting away from biology and toward celebrity gossip, so I stepped in to steer the discussion back in the right discussion.

I take it to imply going from a passive role to an active role in the situation.


Interesting to me that the OP is willing to retain the negative connotation of "not wanted." Adhering to the explicit request, they want a word that conveys:

  • Potentially unwanted (the other part of "interfere")
  • Could be helpful (the person entering at least believes they can/should go in)

To simply "step in" or "chime in" implies that presence is welcomed.

"Intrude" may be the closest word to what was requested. It implies presence that may not be wanted; "butting in" so to speak.


As in:

If I wish to, I will help out. OED

To afford or render assistance in dealing with ...

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.