Easily Confused Words: Beta vs. Betta

Beta and Betta are easily confused words.

The spell-check application of most word processing software programs would not catch a slip-up of these two words. Spell-check is looking for words that aren’t in its dictionary, and words that resemble words in its dictionary, but are possibly spelled wrong. Spell-check isn’t perfect. It doesn’t know and can’t guess what word you wanted, or what word you meant, it can only judge the words on the page. If you used words that are all spelled correctly, it gives you a pass anyway.

Autocorrect suggests words that start with the same letters. It’s suggesting what word you may want to save time, but quite often, its suggestions are pretty off base. They don’t help you out, but they do make you laugh.

Beta (pronounced “bay-tuh”) has multiple meanings.

  • As a noun, it means the second letter of the Greek alphabet.
  • As a noun, in computer science, it refers to the latest phase of software launch that still has a few kinks to work out.
  • As a noun, in investments, the beta is an indicator of volatility of a security or set of securities. You can learn more about that here.
  • As an adjective, in sciences like astronomy, chemistry, physics, “beta” is used to label secondary things. For example, the second brightest star in a constellation is called “beta <<constellation name>>.”
  • As a proper noun, in the 1980s, it was nickname for the US videotape format BetaMax. [Ultimately BetaMax lost out to the VHS format.]
  • As a proper noun, it’s the name of an Amazon web series about a team of software developers.
  • As a proper noun, “Beta Club” is a US academic honor society for children below high school age. Generally speaking, these students are about 9-13 years old.

Betta (pronounced “bet-uh”) is a noun. It’s another name for Siamese Fighting Fish, known for their fan-shaped, ornate tails. Learn more about them here.

The following story uses both words correctly:

Bettina was trying to crank on the code needed for the beta release of her company’s new website. Unfortunately the pair of betta fish she got from her boyfriend were proving to be very distracting. Eventually she moved the bowl to another room so they could fight it out amongst themselves and she could concentrate on her work. Hopefully these feisty fish weren’t foreboding trouble in her relationship. 

 This post relates to another post: Easily Confused Words: Better vs. Beta.


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