noun (1)
he·ro | \ ˈhir-(ˌ)ō \
plural heroes

Definition of hero 

(Entry 1 of 3)

1a : 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

2a : 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 sense 2

4 : an object of extreme admiration and devotion : idol


noun (2)

Definition of Hero (Entry 2 of 3)

: a legendary priestess of Aphrodite loved by Leander


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

Definition of Hero (Entry 3 of 3)

1st century a.d. Greek scientist

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for hero

Synonyms: Noun (1)

god, icon (also ikon), idol

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of hero in a Sentence

Noun (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 Robson, Mother Jones, May/June 2008 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 Hitchens, New York Times Book Review, 12 Aug. 2007 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 Carcaterra, People, 3 June 1991 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 Jaroff, Time, 8 Feb. 1988 He returned from the war a national hero. the hero of a rescue She was a hero for standing up to the government. His father has always been his hero. He has always been a hero to his son.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

For a few hours, there are villains and there are heroes. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "Netflix Is Making the Rom-Com Cool Again," 10 July 2018 Ty and the two lifeguards are heroes for their actions. Naperville Sun, "Letters to the Editor: Time for moderate views to take center stage, too many anti-Trump opinions in paper, more," 6 July 2018 Luis Suarez Crushes the Hopes of a Nation This moment saw Luis Suarez become a national hero in his home nation, and an enemy in Africa for the remainder of his days. SI.com, "7 of the Craziest Moments in World Cup History," 3 July 2018 Goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa instantly became a national hero because of his flurry of dazzling saves. Andrew Beaton, WSJ, "Mexico’s World Cup Ends in Round of 16," 2 July 2018 The original Jurassic Park stands out among action films largely because its protagonists weren’t regular action heroes. refinery29.com, "The Most Interesting Woman In Fallen Kingdom Is A Raptor: How The Jurassic Park Franchise Regressed," 20 June 2018 Getty Images Chrissy Teigen and John Legend are everyday heroes. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "Chrissy Teigen and John Legend Inspired More Than $1,000,000 in ACLU Donations for Donald Trump's Birthday," 16 June 2018 Of the sons, only Kayce, the one who left (and who at some point became a war hero) has earned his father’s grudging respect, and Kayce wants no part of it. Ellen Gray, Philly.com, "With Kevin Costner in 'Yellowstone,' Paramount Network finds home on the range," 15 June 2018 Harry Shipp to the rescue! 1-1 | #SACvSEA pic.twitter.com/EJhAIXzQHM — Seattle Sounders FC (@SoundersFC) June 7, 2018 Matjasic, who came on as a substitute in the 76th minute, became the hero for Republic FC late in the second overtime period. Noel Harris, sacbee, "Why Republic FC is making noise with a stunning upset in U.S. Open Cup play," 6 June 2018

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.

See More

First Known Use of hero

Noun (1)

circa 1522, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun (2)

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for hero

Noun (1)

Latin heros, from Greek hērōs

Noun (2)

Latin, from Greek Hērō

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about hero

Dictionary Entries near hero






Herod Antipas


Phrases Related to hero

folk hero

hero sandwich

Statistics for hero

Last Updated

1 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for hero

The first known use of hero was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for hero



English Language Learners Definition of hero

: 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.


he·ro | \ ˈhir-ō , ˈhē-rō \
plural heroes

Kids Definition of hero

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on hero

What made you want to look up hero? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to deposit or conceal in a hiding place

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Food Quiz

Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!