from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The second letter of the Greek alphabet. See Table at alphabet.
  • n. The second item in a series or system of classification.
  • n. A mathematical measure of the sensitivity of rates of return on a portfolio or a given stock compared with rates of return on the market as a whole. A beta of 1.0 indicates that an asset closely follows the market; a beta greater than 1.0 indicates greater volatility than the market.
  • n. Physics A beta particle.
  • n. Physics A beta ray.
  • n. Chemistry The second position from a designated carbon atom in an organic molecule at which an atom or a radical may be substituted.
  • n. Chemistry An isomeric variation of a chemical compound. Used in combination: beta-estradiol.
  • n. Computer Science A beta version.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Identifying a molecular position in an organic chemical compound.
  • adj. Designates the second in an order of precedence.
  • adj. Preliminary; prerelease. Refers to an incomplete version of a product released for initial testing.
  • adj. associated with the beta male/female archetype.
  • n. The name of the second letter of the Greek alphabet (Β,  β), preceded by alpha (Α,  α) and followed by gamma, (Γ,  γ). In modern Greek it represents the voiced labiodental fricative sound of v found in the English words have and vase.
  • n. Used in marking scheme: α, β, γ or α+, α, α-, β etc.
  • n. Average sensitivity of a security's price to overall securities market prices.
  • n. The phase of development after alpha testing and before launch, in which software, while not complete, has been released to potential users for testing.
  • n. A computer program in such phase; a preliminary version.
  • n. Information about a route which may aid someone in climbing it.
  • n. A beta particle or beta ray.
  • n. A beta fish, of the genus Betta.
  • n. A beta male.
  • v. To preliminarily release computer software for initial testing prior to final release.
  • v. To proofread a text, especially fan fiction.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The second letter of the Greek alphabet, B, β. See b, and cf. etymology of alphabet.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A genus of apetalous plants, natural order Chenopodiaceæ. See beet.
  • n. The second letter of the Greek alphabet, corresponding to English B or b.
  • n. As a classifier in astronomy, chemistry, etc., the second in any series. See alpha, 3.
  • n. A genus of dicotyledonous plants belonging to the family Chenopodiaceæ.
  • n. In the Fiji Islands, a plant of the ginger family, Zinziber Zerumbet. See awapuhi.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. beets
  • adj. second in order of importance
  • n. the 2nd letter of the Greek alphabet
  • adj. preliminary or testing stage of a software or hardware product


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Greek bēta, of Phoenician origin; see byt in Semitic roots.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Ancient Greek βῆτα (bēta)



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  • This word is used differently in rock climbing as noted by the Double-Tongued Dictionary:

    in the sport of rock climbing, advice or instruction on the best way to climb a geographic feature.

    April 1, 2009

  • Also (for fanfic):

    n. a beta reader

    v.t. do a beta read of

    July 3, 2008

  • I'm never sure how to pronounce it.

    Good betta best

    Never let it rest

    Until your good is bayta

    And your beata best!

    June 25, 2008

  • The British pronunciation always makes me chuckle. Horribly provincial of me, I know.

    June 25, 2008

  • The nickname of Eratosthenes, for being second best in many fields.

    June 25, 2008

  • Beta is the second letter of the Greek alphabet. Is derived from the Phoenician letter 'Beth' (meaning 'house'). In Ancient Greek the name was spelt Βήτα and the modern English name (beta)is derived from how it was pronounced. In mathematics and physics it is used to talk about beta particles and radition.

    June 23, 2008