noun he·ro \ ˈhir-(ˌ)ō \
|Updated on: 21 Jul 2018

Definition of hero

plural heroes
1 a : a mythological or legendary figure often of divine descent endowed with great strength or ability
b : an illustrious warrior
c : a person admired for achievements and noble qualities
d : one who shows great courage
2 a : the principal character in a literary or dramatic work used specifically of a principal male character especially when contrasted with heroine
  • A special feature was the cliff-hanger ending when hero, heroine, or both found themselves confronting a violent demise …
  • —Ira Konigsberg
now also used of a principal character who is female
  • … action movies with female heroes are emerging more frequently, and with increasing quality.
  • —William Bibbiani
b : the central figure in an event, period, or movement
3 plural usually heros : submarine 2
4 : an object of extreme admiration and devotion : idol

Examples of hero in a Sentence

  1. A motto of his hero, Thomas Edison, is inscribed on a favorite sweatshirt : "To invent you need a good imagination and a pile of junk." —Britt RobsonMother JonesMay/June 2008
  2. Greater authors—Arthur Conan Doyle most notably—have been in the same dilemma when seeking closure. And, like Conan Doyle, Rowling has won imperishable renown for giving us an identifiable hero and a fine caricature of a villain, and for making a fictional bit of King's Cross station as luminous as a certain address on nearby Baker Street. —Christopher HitchensNew York Times Book Review12 Aug. 2007
  3. Here's a novel by a decorated war hero with a fictional Middle Eastern desert war at its core. It pits an American-led coalition against a potentially lethal enemy … —Lorenzo CarcaterraPeople3 June 1991
  4. Other physicists, long wedded to the notion that nothing can escape from a black hole, have generally come to accept that discovery. And the stuff emitted from little black holes (and big ones too, but far more slowly) is now called Hawking radiation. "In general relativity and early cosmology, Hawking is the hero," says Rocky Kolb, a physicist at Fermilab in Illinois. —Leon JaroffTime8 Feb. 1988
  5. He returned from the war a national hero.

  6. the hero of a rescue

  7. She was a hero for standing up to the government.

  8. His father has always been his hero.

  9. He has always been a hero to his son.

Recent Examples of hero from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hero.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Origin and Etymology of hero

Latin heros, from Greek hērōs

hero Synonyms


god, icon (also ikon), idol;

Other Mythology and Folklore Terms



Definition of Hero

: a legendary priestess of Aphrodite loved by Leander

Origin and Etymology of hero

Latin, from Greek Hērō


biographical name He·ro \ ˈhē-(ˌ)rō , ˈhir-(ˌ)ō \
variants: or Heron play \ˈhē-ˌrän\

Definition of Hero

1st century a.d. Greek scientist

HERO Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of hero for English Language Learners

  • : a person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities

  • : a person who is greatly admired

  • : the chief male character in a story, play, movie, etc.

HERO Defined for Kids


noun he·ro \ ˈhir-ō , ˈhē-rō \

Definition of hero for Students

plural heroes
1 : a person admired for great deeds or fine qualities
  • We study heroes of our nation's history.
2 : a person who shows great courage
  • The firefighters were heroes.
3 : the chief male character in a story, play, or poem

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