Definition of heroine in English:



  • 1A woman admired for her courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.

    ‘she was a true feminist heroine’
    • ‘In the carnage of the Bali bombings, as with the destruction of the New York World Trade Centre last year, heroes and heroines emerged.’
    • ‘Athletes who compete with disabilities are more used to the ‘Francis Gay’ school of sports coverage - saccharine coated profiles about how the little heroes and heroines rose above adversity.’
    • ‘The ticker-tape reception being afforded later this month to the 47,000 volunteers who were the true heroes and heroines of the Games is richly deserved.’
    • ‘Joan of Arc is a heroine in history as well as an enigma in the collective unconscious and, dimension of myth.’
    • ‘It has also been found that preschoolers, who are typically unable to distinguish between what is real and fiction, often see television as reality and try to copy the actions and behaviors of their heroes and heroines.’
    • ‘In a changed political climate, and with like-minded women unable to defend her publicly, a feminist heroine, it turned out, was a very expendable creature.’
    • ‘It is nearly always the case for our equine heroes and heroines that the end of their racing career is made public in a sparse announcement to the press.’
    • ‘We'll take a break, and when we come back, we'll take calls for both Erin Runnion and Sheriff Mike Carona, who have become genuine American heroes and heroines, haven't they?’
    • ‘Alice Lenshina died in jail, but her church survives and she is regarded as a heroine by Zambian feminists.’
    • ‘Great acts of courage happen every day, but heroes and heroines often go unrecognised.’
    • ‘Any resemblance to the Hollywood duo - who became heroines of the feminist movement after their 1991 movie - is coincidental but, at least for Thompson, appropriate.’
    • ‘And what was funny is that my younger sister saw me a little as a heroine, she always looked to me as this free person.’
    • ‘An event of this magnitude could perhaps one day bring recognition to ‘true’ heroes and heroines in society.’
    • ‘Dormant until today, the Olympic tennis stadium suddenly erupted when the Greek heroine came from a set down to gain momentum in the second session.’
    • ‘Kazakova's performance made her the heroine of the Moscow Film Festival.’
    • ‘They are the true heroines of this discouraging episode.’
    • ‘It debunks the myth of great Victorian heroes and heroines such as Dr Arnold, Florence Nightingale, Cardinal Manning.’
    • ‘For 74 years, these true American heroines have languished there ignominiously.’
    • ‘What India's unsung heroes, and heroines, have achieved these past few weeks against great odds should not go unrewarded or unnoticed.’
    • ‘Instead my concern over world and community events has me feeling concerned about yourself and others that have expressed a humanness we avid listeners and fans never allow from our heroes and heroines.’
    brave woman, hero, woman of courage, great woman, woman of the hour
    star, idol, superstar, megastar, celebrity, celebutante, luminary, lion
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    1. 1.1 The chief female character in a book, play, or film, who is typically identified with good qualities, and with whom the reader is expected to sympathize.
      ‘Jane Austen's heroines’
      • ‘Not only do the painters look this way, so do the heroines of the books by the female novelists.’
      • ‘My heroine - a middle-aged female detective - lives in Marchmont and is a bit of a non-conformist loner.’
      • ‘Set in the pre-war Old South, Mitchell wrote about the fictional life of one of literature's and the silver screen's most memorable heroines, Scarlett O'Hara.’
      • ‘That is, Austen invited an intense identification with her heroines while undermining the reader's ability to do so through the irony inherent in free indirect speech.’
      • ‘If by the hero of a novel means one the character not who commands the most interest but who best represents the author's values, Dolly is the heroine.’
      • ‘A ghost story set in medieval times with screaming heroines and handsome knights, it was aiming at the market that longed for a return to more rural, gentler times.’
      • ‘And Jane was described as a real woman, with nothing clumsy about her character and as a genuine heroine unlike today's film stars and models.’
      • ‘Anyone who still believes this myth should look to the dozens of female heroines in comic books.’
      • ‘The heroine of his Ephesian Tale, Anthia, is introduced dressed as Artemis in a procession where all can behold her beauty.’
      • ‘Probably Aristotle also disapproved of Medea as a tragic heroine, because he downgraded plots like this one that show a good person deliberately choosing evil.’
      • ‘I'd say William Gibson has had the most profound effect on representation of female characters, especially heroines, in both the written and filmic genres of sci-fi, and branching into action.’
      • ‘When Kwan shocked Hong Kong by coming out, he was already established as one of the city's best filmmakers, esteemed for his finely tuned aesthetics and perfectly realized tragic heroines.’
      • ‘The range of roles afforded female heroines in Perrault's retellings is predictably limited and limiting, consistently advising young girls to be beautiful rather than clever, passive rather than active.’
      • ‘And I just saw something about a new comic with a heroine called Aphrodite.’
      • ‘Feanay has a similar set of moves, but he uses different guns and is generally quicker than Sho (like most videogame heroines compared with their male counterparts).’
      • ‘The women in non-fiction chick lit possess all the cartoonish and exaggerated qualities of chick-lit heroines, and none of the complexity of real women.’
      • ‘The magician circles, chanting as she goes, faster and faster until finally our heroine trips over her own feet and lands on the floor.’
      • ‘She plays the role of one two heroines in the film, the other being Samyuktha Varma.’
      • ‘The latest wave of computer games looks set to feature heroines more resembling Carmen Electra or Pamela Anderson than Buffy the Vampire Slayer.’
      • ‘More than half of its movies debuted at the Television Critics Association last month focused on women's issues, female characters or heroines.’
      female protagonist, principal female character
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    2. 1.2 (in mythology and folklore) a woman of superhuman qualities and often semi-divine origin, in particular one whose deeds were the subject of ancient Greek myths.
      • ‘Like a mythological heroine who makes a terrifying journey to the underworld and returns with a valuable prize, Turke feels she has been given a gift.’
      • ‘The new series is set in a world of superheroes like Superman, Spiderman, Batman, and heroines like Wonder Woman don't exist.’
      • ‘By the end of it we had half the known superheroes and heroines from the old comic books.’
      • ‘Intricate carvings decorated the face of the doors, depicting the many elven heroes and heroines.’
      • ‘Draupathy, the mythical heroine is an archetype of Indian woman.’
      • ‘With her tip-tilted nose and sheaf of brown hair, Mulgrew as Isolt even resembles John W. Waterhouse's Pre-Raphaelite paintings of mythic medieval heroines.’
      • ‘Propertius' romantic, impossible dream had been that Cynthia would be like heroines of myth.’
      • ‘Characteristically, he depicts the mythic heroine at the very moment of her ravishment, when she is taken by Zeus, transformed into a shower of gold coins.’
      • ‘When Kalliope had no interesting news from the city, Kyros told us war stories and about heroes, heroines, gods and goddesses.’
      • ‘Chetty's subjects are symbolic tarotlike goddesses and heroines beautifully executed in silk with elegantly visible stitching, which hang on the wall like paintings.’
      • ‘The season debuts with Usha Gupta's new piece, Asht Nayika, based on eight female heroines of Indian mythology.’
      • ‘As a Saxon Benedictine, Hrotsvit wrote lives of saints, epic Ottonian histories, and brief dramas of Christian martyrs and heroines.’
      • ‘But what happens when the idea of drawing images of womanhood on the contemporary stage is born through juxtaposition of the two ancient heroines, moulded to the necessities of the experiences of womanhood?’
      • ‘In China, the goddess Guanyin is also a heroine who dies and returns from the Underworld where she demonstrates her powers.’
      • ‘Numerous Greek heroes and heroines commit manslaughter in myth.’
      • ‘It's worth bearing in mind that the fount of all female action heroines is China - not a country known for its equal treatment of the sexes.’
      • ‘She focuses exclusively on narrative representations of female heroines from classical antiquity.’
      • ‘Traditional beliefs and views are subverted as a searching look is directed at figures and heroines from our epics, myths and legends.’
      • ‘Each ethnic group has its own heroes and heroines, legends, and myths.’
      • ‘Similarly the Greek and Roman gods were more like mythical heroes and heroines than like the omnipotent, omniscient and good God postulated in mediaeval and modern philosophy.’


Mid 17th century (in the sense ‘demigoddess, venerated woman’): from French héroïne or Latin heroina, from Greek hērōinē, feminine of hērōs ‘hero’.