- hero (n.1)
- late 14c., "man of superhuman strength or physical courage," from Old French heroe (14c., Modern French héros), from Latin heros (plural heroes) "hero, demi-god, illustrious man," from Greek heros (plural heroes) "demi-god," a variant singular of which was heroe.
This is of uncertain origin; perhaps originally "defender, protector," and from PIE root *ser- (1) "to watch over, protect" (see observe). Meaning "man who exhibits great bravery" in any course of action is from 1660s in English. Sense of "chief male character in a play, story, etc." first recorded 1690s. First record of hero-worship is from 1774.
In Homer, of the Greeks before Troy, then a comprehensive term used of warriors generally, also of all free men in the Heroic Age. In classical mythology at least from the time of Hesiod (8c. B.C.E.) "man born from a god and a mortal," especially one who had done service to mankind; with the exception of Heracles limited to local deities and patrons of cities.
- hero (n.2)
- 1955, the New York City term for a sandwich elsewhere called submarine, grinder, poor boy (New Orleans), or hoagie (Philadelphia); origin unknown, perhaps so called for its great size (from hero (n.1)), or a folk-etymology alteration of Greek gyro as a type of sandwich.