late 14c., "man of superhuman strength or courage," from L. heros "hero," from Gk. heros "demi-god" (a variant singular of which was heroe), originally "defender, protector," from PIE base *ser- "to watch over, protect" (cf. L. servare "to save, deliver, preserve, protect"). Sense of "chief male character in a play, story, etc." first recorded 1697. Fem. form heroine first attested 1650s, from L. heroina, from Gk. heroine. First record of hero-worship is from 1774. Heroic verse (1610s), decasyllabic iambic, is from It. Hero, the New York term for a sandwich elsewhere called submarine, grinder, poor boy (New Orleans), or hoagie (Philadelphia), is 1955, origin unknown, perhaps folk etymology of Gk. gyro, a type of sandwich.