Word Confusion: Heroin versus Heroine

Posted August 19, 2013 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

This heterographic word confusion is so disconcerting when I stumble across it. Yes, stumble, ’cause I’m just a’readin’ along, getting into the story, and suddenly this super woman who is going all out to save the day is using heroin??? WTF?

I find myself hoping that it was just someone’s tired, worn out, exhausted copyeditor or proofreader, but it’s just that I’ve seen this confusion a few too many times… Y’all might want to add this particular word to a spelling style guide as a term that needs to be checked. ‘Cause I really don’t wanna read about some heroin addict who is suddenly behaving like a heroine. Ah jist gits so dern konfuzed…especially if nothing else in the story has been leading up to this.

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end.

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Heroin Heroine
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com

“Woman Injecting Heroin” by Kenny Mcdonald is under the Creative Commons 2.0 license, via Flickr; no changes were made.

This is a woman on heroin.

“Angelina Jolie, ‘Tomb Raider'” courtesy of Beyond Hollywood

This is a woman heroine.

Part of Grammar:
Plural for noun: heroin
Plural for noun: heroines
Highly addictive analgesic drug derived from morphine which is processed from poppies A woman admired or idealized for her courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities

Chief female character in a book, play, or movie, who is typically identified with good qualities and with whom the reader is expected to sympathize

[Mythology, folklore] Woman of superhuman qualities and often semi-divine origin, in particular one whose dealings with the gods were the subject of ancient Greek myths and legends

Jack Winter from Caitlin Kittredge’s Black London series is a heroin addict.

Heroin is an opioid typically used as a recreational drug for its euphoric effects.

It’s quite easy to overdose from heroin.

A number of celebrities have been sucked into using heroin.

Did you see her save that little boy? She’s a heroine.

Women with super powers, like Wonder Woman or Supergirl, are heroines.

Ordinary women like teachers, nurses, and mothers, amongst others, are heroines.

Katniss Everdeen was the heroine in The Hunger Games.

Noun: superheroine
History of the Word:
Late 19th century from the German Heroin which is, in turn, from the Latin heros or hero because of its effects on the user’s self-esteem. Mid-17th century—in the sense of a demigoddess or venerated woman—from the French héroïne or the Latin heroina which is in turn from the Greek hērōinē, which is the feminine of hērōs or hero.

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves? Also, please note that I try to be as accurate as I can, but mistakes happen or I miss something. Email me if you find errors, so I can fix them…and we’ll all benefit!

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Pinterest Photo Credits:

Boiling Up Heroin” photographed by Hendrike is under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license and “C2E2 2014 – Wonder Woman” by GabboT (053) is under the CC BY-SA 2.0 license; both are via Wikimedia Commons.