Heroin vs. Heroine (vs. Hero)

Learn when it's appropriate to use heroin vs. heroine (vs. hero) with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors. Believe it or not, the heroic possibilities aren't quite as cut and dried as many expect.
Publish date:

Learn when it's appropriate to use heroin vs. heroine (vs. hero) with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors. Believe it or not, the heroic possibilities aren't quite as cut and dried as many expect.

Image placeholder title

In a world of superheroes and comic-based multiverses, many writers are bound to ask for the super-powered female protagonists, "Should I use the word heroin or heroine?"

Image placeholder title

Heroin vs. Heroine

Heroin is an addictive opioid that is typically injected into a vein, though it can also be smoked, snorted, or inhaled. It's the drug of choice used in the movie Trainspotting, based on Irvine Welsh's novel of the same name. It's generally considered a bad recreational drug that can ruin lives, though users take it for its euphoric effects.

Heroine is the female protagonist of a work of fiction and/or a real-life woman admired for her outstanding qualities and/or achievements. Kind of like Amelia Earhart or Princess Diana (aka, Wonder Woman).

So while heroin may briefly make someone feel like they have superpowers, heroines sometimes actually do have superpowers.

Make sense?

But why did I include the term hero in the title?

Good question.

This is where it can get a little confusing, because popular usage is mixed on whether to refer to women with superpowers as heroines or heroes. Some sources refer to a super-powered and/or admirable woman as a hero, making the word hero gender-neutral. And maybe that's the way language is moving.

I'm not making a ruling either way. However, whether you prefer hero or heroine, please don't use heroin. It's bad for your health.

Learn more in the online course, Grammar and Mechanics, from Writer's Digest University:

Image placeholder title
Poetic Forms

Rannaigecht Mor Gairit: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the rannaigecht mor gairit, a variant form of the rannaigecht.


The Writer, The Inner Critic, & The Slacker

Author and writing professor Alexander Weinstein explains the three parts of a writer's psyche, how they can work against the writer, and how to utilize them for success.


Todd Stottlemyre: On Mixing and Bending Genres

Author Todd Stottlemyre explains how he combined fiction and nonfiction in his latest book and what it meant as a writer to share his personal experiences.


Plot Twist Story Prompts: Take a Trip

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have a character take a trip somewhere.


Making the Switch from Romance to Women’s Fiction

In this article, author Jennifer Probst explains the differences between romance and women's fiction, the importance of both, and how you can make the genre switch.


Stephanie Wrobel: On Writing an Unusual Hero

Author Stephanie Wrobel explains how she came to write about mental illness and how it affects familial relationships, as well as getting inside the head of an unusual character.


Who Are the Inaugural Poets for United States Presidents?

Here is a list of the inaugural poets for United States Presidential Inauguration Days from Robert Frost to Amanda Gorman. This post also touches on who an inaugural poet is and which presidents have had them at their inaugurations.


Precedent vs. President (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use precedent vs. president with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 554

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a future poem.