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

The “Secret Sauce” Necessary to Succeed at a 30-Day Writing Challenge

In this article, author and writing coach Nina Amir lays out her top tips to master your mindset and complete a 30-day writing challenge.


Crashing Into New Worlds: Writing About the Unfamiliar

Award-winning crime author Stephanie Kane explains how she builds characters unlike herself and navigates their worlds to create vivid and realistic stories.


Plot Twist Story Prompts: Without a Trace

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have a character leave without a trace.


Vintage WD: The Truth about True Crime

In this article from July 2000, true crime novelist and former New York Times correspondent Lisa Beth Pulitzer shares with us some key insights for breaking into the true crime genre.


New Agent Alert: Barb Roose of Books & Such Literary Management

New literary agent alerts (with this spotlight featuring Barb Roose of Books & Such Literary Management) are golden opportunities for new writers because each one is a literary agent who is likely building his or her client list.


Evoking Emotion in Fiction: Seven Pragmatic Ways to Make Readers Give a Damn

Evoking emotion on the page begins with the man or woman at the keyboard. Dustin Grinnell serves up seven straightforward tactics for writing tear-jerking stories that make your readers empathize with your characters.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 546

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 spooky poem.


Learn Better World-Building Strategies Through World of Warcraft and the New Shadowlands Expansion

WD editor and fantasy writer Moriah Richard shares five unique ways in which writers can use World of Warcraft to better build their worlds—without playing the game.