Etymology
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beta (n.)

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. Beta male, pejorative term for a risk-avoidant, non-confrontational man perceived as a follower or supporter rather than a leader, is by 2005, transferred from zoology (birds, primates), where it is attested by 1962 (compare alpha male under alpha).

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bethel (n.)
1610s, "a place where God is worshipped," from Hebrew beth El "house of God," from beth, construct state of bayit "house" + El "God." Popular as a name for religious meeting houses among some Protestant denominations and also of chapels for sailors. Beth also was the name of the second letter of the Hebrew alphabet, so called for its shape, and was borrowed into Greek as beta.
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alphabet (n.)

"letters of a language arranged in customary order," 1570s, from Late Latin alphabetum (Tertullian), from Greek alphabetos, from alpha + beta. Attested from early 15c. in a sense "learning or lore acquired through reading." Words for it in Old English included stæfræw, literally "row of letters," stæfrof "array of letters," and compare ABC.

It was a wise though a lazy cleric whom Luther mentions in his "Table Talk,"—the monk who, instead of reciting his breviary, used to run over the alphabet and then say, "O my God, take this alphabet, and put it together how you will." [William S. Walsh, "Handy-Book of Literary Curiosities," 1892]

Alphabet soup is attested by 1907.

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Phi Beta Kappa 

undergraduate honorary society, 1776, from initials of Greek philosophia biou kybernētēs "philosophy, guide of life."

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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.

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Betamax (n.)
1975, proprietary name (Sony), from Japanese beta-beta "all over" + max, from English maximum.
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actinium (n.)
radioactive element discovered in 1899; see actino- "pertaining to rays" + chemical suffix -ium. It emits beta rays. The name was given earlier to a supposed new element (1881).
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fraternity (n.)

early 14c., "body of men associated by common interest," from Old French fraternité (12c.), from Latin fraternitatem (nominative fraternitas) "brotherhood," from fraternus "brotherly," from frater "brother," from PIE root *bhrater- "brother." Meaning "state or condition of being as brothers" is from late 15c. College Greek-letter organization sense is from 1777, first in reference to Phi Beta Kappa.

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Pollux 

twin brother of Castor (q.v.), hence also the name of the beta star of Gemini (though slightly brighter than Castor), 1520s, from Latin, from Greek Polydeukēs, literally "very sweet," or "much sweet wine," from polys "much" (from PIE root *pele- (1) "to fill") + deukēs "sweet" (prom PIE *dleuk-; see glucose). The contraction of the name in Latin is perhaps via Etruscan [Klein].

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Algol 
variable star (Beta Persei) in the constellation Perseus, late 14c., literally "the Demon," from Arabic al-ghul "the demon" (see ghoul). It corresponds, in modern representations of the constellation, to the gorgon's head Perseus holds, but probably it was so called because it visibly varies in brightness every three days, which sets it apart from other bright stars.

The computer language (1959) is a contraction of algo(rithmic) l(anguage); see algorithm.
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