hero

[heer-oh]
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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.

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


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British Dictionary definitions for heroes

hero

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

Word Origin for hero

C14: from Latin hērōs, from Greek

Hero

1
noun
  1. Greek myth a priestess of Aphrodite, who killed herself when her lover Leander drowned while swimming the Hellespont to visit her

Hero

2

Heron

noun
  1. 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

Word Origin and History for heroes

hero

n.2

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.

hero

n.1

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

heroes in Science

Hero

[hērō]First century ce
  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.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.