What’s another term for hero?

I ask because I’ve spent a few hours trying to find one. If I’m suggesting we should not elevate heroes to godlike status, applaud but not worship people who’ve done terrific things…well, what should we call them?

An admirable woman, a lawyer, whom I follow on Twitter, just called an admirable journalist, whom I read avidly, her “hero.” The journalist doesn’t fit the word; she’s greater than a hero. Her work has exposed darkness we need to see into and for that I admire her. But her books and articles are not limited to one spontaneous life-risking action. Indeed, she’s been producing important work for years.

If she isn’t a hero — she’s too brilliant to be a hero — what should we call her?

My father’s 1924 Roget’s is no help whatsoever, although in turning the pages to locate “hero,” I noticed “hellhag,” which is fun, if not relevant to my search. In the “hellhag” paragraph, I find “[MALEFICENT BEING], evildoer…marplot…terrorist; Attila, scourge of the human race.”

OK, so I could refer to someone I loathe as one of the above, but where is the benevolent antithesis, if not “hero”, to “scourge of the human race”?

“Tutelary saint”? Nah. “Savior”? Definitely not; worse than “hero.”

There are an intimidating number of words for monsters, i.e., hellhag. Why not a few synonyms for “hero,” without the tacit “worship” trailing along behind?

Maybe if I revere someone — as does the lawyer in the above-mentioned tweet — I could call her “reverence” or “reverend.”

Deep sigh. It’s easier to write about heretics.

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