[bey-tuh or, esp. British, bee-]


Origin of beta

< Latin < Greek bêta < Semitic; compare Hebrew bēth beth Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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Contemporary Examples of beta

Historical Examples of beta

British Dictionary definitions for beta



the second letter in the Greek alphabet (Β, β), a consonant, transliterated as b
the second highest grade or mark, as in an examination
  1. involving or relating to electronsbeta emitter
  2. relating to one of two or more allotropes or crystal structures of a solidbeta iron
  3. relating to one of two or more isomeric forms of a chemical compound

Word Origin for beta

from Greek bēta, from Hebrew; see beth



(foll by the genitive case of a specified constellation) a star in a constellation, usually the second brightestBeta Persei
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for beta

second letter of the Greek alphabet, c.1300, from Greek, from Hebrew/Phoenician beth (see alphabet); used to designate the second of many things. Beta radiation is from 1899 (Rutherford). Beta particle is attested from 1904.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for beta


[bātə, bē-]


The second letter of the Greek alphabet.
The second item in a series or system of classification.
A beta particle.
A beta ray.


Of or relating to the second position from a designated carbon atom in an organic molecule at which an atom or a radical may be substituted.
Of or relating to an isomeric variation of a chemical compound, such as a stereoisomer.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.