Here at Major Spoilers, we look at a lot of comics, and so spend a lot of time discussing heroes, both super and otherwise.  As a matter of course, I prefer not to use the term ‘heroine’, for reason homonymic (it sounds like the drug “heroin”, leading to to snickery Beavis & Butthead shenanigans) and patriarchal (I don’t my female colleagues “writresses.”)  Still, I’ve had a couple of people, including my eleven-year-old daughter, express a preference for the feminine form, leading to today’s linguistic query…

The MS-QOTD ( pronounced “ped-un-tree”) wavers back and forth on using “actress”, but has to pick my dumb semantic arguments carefully, asking : Do you have any issue with the word “heroine” or is it just me?

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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4 Comments

  1. Daniel Kobel
    September 10, 2015 at 11:37 am — Reply

    Yes, the homophone thing is just weird but I feel that way too. But, to me, a different word means a different status. Someone who stops me being hit by a bus is a hero. Period. Hero and heroine and other such gendered nouns also force a choice that non-binary folks shouldn’t have to make.

  2. September 10, 2015 at 11:43 am — Reply

    Interesting that usage of the word is usually used to refer to individuals in a fictional work of art. So, when we talk about real life, we can talk about female heroes, but when we discourse about literature, we use the word heroine.

    It’s a dated word.

    http://grammarist.com/usage/heroin-heroine/

  3. September 10, 2015 at 1:39 pm — Reply

    Im not a native english speaker, so no, probably because I dont think it same way. By the way, dont have any distinction between male/female pronouns in finnish language, its all in context.

  4. Ivan Kvapil
    September 10, 2015 at 2:46 pm — Reply

    I don’t like using the word myself. Hero has always felt like a gender neutral word that fits more than heroine. I always find more that when someone uses the word heroine they’re talking about someone who will eventually be saved by the “real” hero of the story.

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