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[heer-oh] /ˈhɪər oʊ/
noun, plural heroes; for 5 also heros.
a person noted for courageous acts or nobility of character:
He became a local hero when he saved the drowning child.
a person who, in the opinion of others, has special achievements, abilities, or personal qualities and is regarded as a role model or ideal:
My older sister is my hero. Entrepreneurs are our modern heroes.
the principal male character in a story, play, film, etc.
Classical Mythology.
  1. a being of godlike prowess and beneficence who often came to be honored as a divinity.
  2. (in the Homeric period) a warrior-chieftain of special strength, courage, or ability.
  3. (in later antiquity) an immortal being; demigod.
the bread or roll used in making a hero sandwich.
Compare heroine (defs 1–3).
Origin of hero
1605-15; back formation from Middle English heroes (plural) < Latin hērōs (singular), hērōes (plural) < Greek hḗrōs, hḗrōes
Related forms
herolike, adjective
subhero, noun, plural subheroes.
unhero, noun, plural unheroes.
unherolike, adjective
3. lead, star.
3. villain, heavy.
Usage note
In its earliest use, the word hero was applied almost exclusively to a man. The corresponding word heroine was–and still is–reserved for a woman. Hero is still sometimes used to refer specifically to a man: British heroes and heroines. But hero is now considered to be a gender-neutral word, and is also increasingly used to refer to a woman: a list of American heroes; Joan of Arc, a French hero. In the sense "the principal character in a story, play, etc.," a hero is male and a heroine is female: Margaret is the novel’s heroine.


[heer-oh] /ˈhɪər oʊ/
Classical Mythology. a priestess of Aphrodite who drowned herself after her lover Leander drowned while swimming the Hellespont to visit her.
Also, Heron. (Hero of Alexandria) flourished 1st century a.d, Greek scientist. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for hero
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Our hero, though strong-armed, had hard work to keep up with him.

    Brave and Bold Horatio Alger
  • In spite of the wound he seized the musket and forcibly wrested it from our hero.

    Brave and Bold Horatio Alger
  • "It makes no difference to you where I got it," said our hero, returning the money to his pocket.

    Brave and Bold Horatio Alger
  • Our hero listened with modest pleasure while it was being read.

    Brave and Bold Horatio Alger
  • He thought that our hero was about to beg to be taken back into his employ.

    Brave and Bold Horatio Alger
British Dictionary definitions for hero


noun (pl) -roes
a man distinguished by exceptional courage, nobility, fortitude, etc
a man who is idealized for possessing superior qualities in any field
(classical myth) a being of extraordinary strength and courage, often the offspring of a mortal and a god, who is celebrated for his exploits
the principal male character in a novel, play, etc
Word Origin
C14: from Latin hērōs, from Greek


(Greek myth) a priestess of Aphrodite, who killed herself when her lover Leander drowned while swimming the Hellespont to visit her


1st century ad, Greek mathematician and inventor
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for hero

late 14c., "man of superhuman strength or physical courage," from Latin heros "hero," from Greek heros "demi-god" (a variant singular of which was heroe), originally "defender, protector," from PIE root *ser- "to watch over, protect" (cf. Latin servare "to save, deliver, preserve, protect;" see observe). Meaning "man who exhibits great bravery" in any course of action is from 1660s. Sense of "chief male character in a play, story, etc." first recorded 1690s. First record of hero-worship is from 1774.


1955, the New York term for a sandwich elsewhere called submarine, grinder, poor boy (New Orleans), or hoagie (Philadelphia); origin unknown, perhaps so called for its great size, or a folk etymology alteration of Greek gyro as a type of sandwich.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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hero in Science
Greek mathematician who wrote on mechanics and invented many water-driven and steam-driven machines. He also developed a formula for determining the area of a triangle.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Slang definitions & phrases for hero

hero sandwich

n phr,n

A sandwich made with a loaf of bread cut lengthwise and filled with a variety of cheeses, sausages, vegetables, etc; grinder, hoagie, poor boy, submarine, torpedo (1955+)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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