Etymology
Advertisement
B 

second letter of the Latin alphabet, corresponding to Greek beta, Phoenician beth, literally "house." It "has nothing of that variety of pronunciation shown by most English letters" [Century Dictionary]. The Germanic "b" is said to represent a "bh" sound in Proto-Indo-European, which continued as "bh" in Sanskrit, became "ph" in Greek (brother/Greek phrater; bear (v.)/Greek pherein) and "f" in Latin (frater, ferre).

Often indicating "second in order." B-movie is by 1939, usually said to be so called from being the second, or supporting, film in a double feature. Some film industry sources say it was so called for being the second of the two films major studios generally made in a year, and the one cast with less headline talent and released with less promotion. And early usage varies with grade-B movie, suggesting a perceived association with quality.

B-side of a gramophone single is by 1962 (flip-side is by 1949). B-girl, abbreviation of bar girl, U.S. slang for a woman paid to encourage customers at a bar to buy her drinks, is by 1936.

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
bete noire (n.)
"person or thing regarded with especial aversion," 1844, from French bête noire, literally "the black beast." For bête see beast; noire is from Latin niger (see Negro).
Related entries & more 
black comedy (n.)

1961, "comedy that deals in themes and subjects usually regarded as serious or taboo," from black (adj.), in a figurative sense of "morbid," + comedy. Compare French pièce noire, also comédie noire "macabre or farcical rendering of a violent or tragic theme" (1958, perhaps the inspiration for the English term) and 19th-century gallows-humor. In a racial sense, from 1921.

Related entries & more 
terza rima (n.)
1819, Italian, literally "third rhyme." Dante's measure: a-b-a-b-c-b-c-d-c-, etc.
Related entries & more 
ottava rima 

form of versification, 1820, Italian, "eight-lined stanza," literally "eighth rhyme," from ottava "eighth" (see octave + rhyme (n.)). A stanza of eight 11-syllable lines, rhymed a b a b a b c c, but in the Byronic variety the lines are typically 10-syllable English heroics.

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
alcove (n.)
"vaulted recess," 1670s, from French alcôve (17c.), from Spanish alcoba, from Arabic al-qobbah "the vaulted chamber," from Semitic base q-b-b "to be bent, crooked, vaulted." The al- is the Arabic definite article, "the."
Related entries & more 
Heimlich maneuver (n.)
1975, named for U.S. physician Henry Jay Heimlich (b. 1920).
Related entries & more 
Lemnos 
Greek island, the name is believed to be of Phoenician origin, from Semitic root l-b-n "white." Related: Lemnian.
Related entries & more 
sis-boom-bah 
cheerleading chant, originally (1867) an echoic phrase imitating the sound of a skyrocket flight (sis), the burst of the fireworks (boom), and the reaction of the crowd ((b)ah).
Related entries & more 
behaviorism (n.)

1913, coined by U.S. psychologist John B. Watson from behavior + -ism. Behaviorist is from the same time.

Related entries & more