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noun, plural he·roes; for 5 also he·ros.
  1. a person noted for courageous acts or nobility of character: He became a local hero when he saved the drowning child.
  2. 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.
  3. the principal male character in a story, play, film, etc.
  4. 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.
  5. hero sandwich.
  6. the bread or roll used in making a hero sandwich.
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Origin of hero

1605–15; back formation from Middle English heroes (plural) < Latin hērōs (singular), hērōes (plural) < Greek hḗrōs, hḗrōes
Related formshe·ro·like, adjectivesub·he·ro, noun, plural sub·he·roes.un·he·ro, noun, plural un·he·roes.un·he·ro·like, adjective

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.

Synonyms for hero

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3. lead, star.

Antonyms for hero

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for heroes

hoagie, sub, submarine, torpedo, grinder, ace, adventurer, celebrity, combatant, conqueror, daredevil, exemplar, gallant, god, heavy, ideal, idol, lead, lion, martyr

Examples from the Web for heroes

Contemporary Examples of heroes

Historical Examples of heroes

British Dictionary definitions for heroes


noun plural -roes
  1. a man distinguished by exceptional courage, nobility, fortitude, etc
  2. a man who is idealized for possessing superior qualities in any field
  3. classical myth a being of extraordinary strength and courage, often the offspring of a mortal and a god, who is celebrated for his exploits
  4. the principal male character in a novel, play, etc
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Word Origin for hero

C14: from Latin hērōs, from Greek


  1. Greek myth a priestess of Aphrodite, who killed herself when her lover Leander drowned while swimming the Hellespont to visit her
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  1. 1st century ad, Greek mathematician and inventor
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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

Word Origin and History for heroes



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.

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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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

heroes in Science


  1. 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.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.