How to Pronounce Betta

Q: T wrote,

Hi Christie, I was wondering how you pronounce Betta. Do you say “bed-dah” or “bay-dah”? I know the real way is “bed-dah” but I can’t get used to saying it that way. Even the people at PetsMart say “bay-dah.”

A: It’s true, the proper pronunciation of Betta is “bed-tah” and not “bay-tah.” It’s believed that they have been named after a tribe of warriors with a similar name. Others believe Betta splenden is translated to “beautiful warrior” in Latin. I have to admit, I’m a little rusty with my Latin but I think the Latin word for beautiful is “pulcher”. Since that doesn’t sound anything like betta or splenden, I’m going to go with the tribe of warriors theory until I hear otherwise.

Personally, I say “bed-tah” because I prefer to be accurate. The majority of people say “bay-tah” because it’s what we hear in fish stores. The problem is that many pet store employees, especially in the large chain stores, aren’t serious hobbyists and really just don’t know better. Occasionally, I’ll even have one “correct” me. To refresh spelling (something I’m terrible at BTW) we should remember that in a two syllable word with a double consonant in the middle the vowel is usually short. As in hammer, drummer and betta. With only one consonant, the word becomes beta.

What you decide to call them is up to you. Betta has been mispronounced by so many people for so long the incorrect term is practically acceptable. Just keep in mind that avid hobbyists will expect to hear the correct pronunciation may correct you if say “bay-tah.”

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Christie F is a Betta splendens hobbyist that enjoys spending time caring for her fish and helping new betta keepers learn the ropes. More posts by:

2 Comments for this entry

  1. ra3raga says:

    The undesputable pronunciation for "betta" is "sye-aw-MEEZ FYE-teeng fehsh" ;-)

  2. Jon says:

    Thank you! I’m so tired of these pet stores and people mis-pronouncing this poor fish’s name! It’s become one of my biggest pet peeves! I go out of my way to correct them anymore. Also, there is no such thing as a Beta (bay-dah) Fish. It’s just a Betta, not a Betta Fish. You can say Siamese Fighting Fish to describe it (OK). But, it’s a Betta Splendens or Betta for short.

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