Friday, April 3, 2020

beta ベタ

In Japanese, beta ベタ can mean various things: plain, normal, uninteresting; clichéd; to fill a space completely, leaving no gaps; to fill an area with a solid color, typically black; a mimetic morpheme meaning "sticky;" and some other things.

やってみた方が早いかもな まず俺が人を描く えーと 佐倉 ベタ 終わりました
Manga: Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun 月刊少女野崎くん (Volume 1, Chapter 3, Page 38, 御子柴くんのお仕事)


The word beta ベタ has various meanings in Japanese.


The word beta ベタ can mean something is "plain," in the sense of not having anything special or interesting about it. Something done the normal way, without tricks, the boring way.
  • sono mama
    As-is. Literally. Exactly like that.

Typically this is used as an adverb, for example:
  • beta ni kokuhaku suru
    To confess simply.
    • Like, just saying "I like you" to the person you like, instead of using a love letter or something more interesting.
  • beta ni tsukuru
    To create [something] simply.
    • To create something normally, without anything amazing or special in it.

When talking about computers and software, programming, beta ベタ can mean something is done using plain text, rather than more complex editing software.
  • beta ni kaku
    To write in plain text.
    • For example, to write HTML using Notepad++, or to output HTML in a programming language by simply concatenating strings, rather than using a templating library.


The word beta ベタ can also mean something is "cliché," or "clichéd." That is, something that is so terribly common that it appears to lack originality, and since it lacks originality, it's uninteresting, it's boring, unfunny, and so on.
  • neta
    Content or ideas used as basis for something.
  • tenpure
  • kopipe
    Copy-paste. Something that's copy-pasted. A copypasta.

This word is typically used in two ways:
  1. To criticize something for being unoriginal and relying on overused plot developments. See also: the isekai 異世界 genre.
    • beta na tenkai
      A clichéd development.
    • beta na ochi
      A clichéd punchline.
      A clichéd outcome.
  2. To express you disbelief that something so ridiculously clichéd could ever actually happen.

If you think about it, these two usages are sort of contradictory. After all, something clichéd happens a lot, so why would you think that something clichéd is unlikely to happen?

That's because, in fiction, clichés are often unrealistic, so they're likely in fiction, but unlikely in reality.

For example, a common trope is by chance having an encounter with a random girl (or another character) before going to school, and then in class it turns out that character is a transfer student.

Realistically, the odds of that happening are thin, but in fiction it happens a lot.

そ それでさぁ ついでに訊きたいんだけど・・・ こ 告白ってみんなならどーやってする? えっと・・・私の友達で告白するのに悩んでて さ~~ ぼりぼり ほっほ~~ん そういうコト・・・か なるほど・・・ね なんてベタな・・・
Manga: School Rumble, スクールランブル (Chapter 16, Wild Party)
  • Context: girls get together.
  • so, sore de saa
    そ それでさぁ
    [And, and you see].
    • sore de
      And then. After that.
      With that. Given that. (used to continue a conversation.)
    • saa
      You see. You know. (interjection.)
  • tsuide ni kikitai-n-dakedo...
    [There's something] [I] want to ask, [since we're at it].
    • tsuide ni
      Incidentally. Since we're at it.
  • ko, kokuhaku tte minna nara doo yatte suru?
    こ 告白ってみんなならどーやってする?
    Confessing [to someone you love], how would [you] do [it] if it were [you]?
    • dou yaru
      What to do in order to do something else.
      In this case, what to do in order to confess.
  • etto... watashi no tomodachi de kokuhaku suru noni nayandete saa
    Erm... my friend is having trouble confessing, [you see]~~
  • boribori
    *munch munch*
  • ho'hoon
    (A Santa laugh-like sound, typically used when examining something intriguing.)
  • souiu koto... ka
    [That's how it is, huh.]
  • naruhodo... ne
    [Oh, I see.]
  • nante beta na...
    What a clichéd... [thing to say.]
    • Asking for help with a personal problem, but saying it's not you who is having the problem, it's your unnamed "friend," who, naturally, nobody knows, because they go to another school, in Canada, is very clichéd.

This sense is sometimes used adverbially. For example:
  • beta ni pan wo kuwae nagara hashiru
    Clichéd-ly running with a bread in [your] mouth.
    • chikoku~~!
      [I'm going to be late for school]~!

Contact Print

The word beta ベタ can be an abbreviation of beta-yaki ベタ焼き, which means a "contact print" in photography. This word can also refer to a dish: a pancake topped with vegetables.

The verb yaku 焼く means "to cook," "to burn." In traditional photography, light-sensitive chemicals react to light and burn onto paper to create an image, called the negative, whose colors are literally the opposite of what you want.
  • nega
  • yaki-tsukeru
    To burn-and-attach.
    To burn on.

Typically, the negative is placed into a projector and enlarged into a photo. In a contact print, however, the negative is placed in "contact" with the photographic paper, so the photo becomes the same size as the negative.

The word beta ベタ here is probably used because you just develop (i.e. burn) the photo as-is, simply, just like that, without using something extra like a projector.

Solid Typesetting

The word beta ベタ can also mean beta-kumi ベタ組み, which translates to "solid typesetting."

In Japanese, tsume-kumi 詰め組み, "stuffing and putting together," is the term for laying out letters, characters side by side in a text.

Typically, glyphs are laid out with a space, a margin, between one glyph and the next. This spacing is called "kerning." The term for spacing between lines is called "leading" by the way.

Laying them out without kerning would be the simple way to do it, i.e. the beta ベタ way to do it.


The word beta ベタ can also mean "completely," "totally," often in the sense of leaving no gaps, like covering a surface "entirely." For example:
  • ao wo beta ni nuru
    To "smear" blue entirely. (literally.)
    To paint [something] entirely with blue.
    • In the hence of homogeneously blue, just one color: blue. If there's something drawn on it, even if it's with a shade of blue, then it's not beta ベタ anymore.
  • konshuu wa beta ni yotei ga tsumatte-iru
    This week is entirely filled with appointments. (literally.)
    This week's schedule is full. (no gaps for new appointments.)


The word beta べた is often used in the sense of "completely" as a prefix. For example:
  • beta-bore
    Completely fallen in love.
    • horeru
      To fall in love.
    • ho ほ becomes bo ぼ due to rendaku 連濁.
  • beta-bome
    Completely praised.
    • homeru
      To praise someone.
  • beta-make
    Completely defeated.
    • makeru
      To be defeated. To lose a fight.
  • beta-ori
    In Mahjong: completely giving up a match. Specifically, discarding only safe tiles to avoid losing points, rather than building a winning hand to win points.
    • There are typically at least eight matches per game, and four players. Normally, the winner doesn't need to win all matches. In fact, winning big once and then going full defense for the rest of the game is a legitimate strategy.
    • oriru
      To drop. (as in to fall.)
      To step down. (as in to drop out of a race, to abandon a post, to give up.)

Black Ink

In manga, beta ベタ refers to filling an area with a single color, specially the black color in monochrome manga. This is done either by using black ink or with pure black screentones.
  • kuro-beta
    To pain something entirely with black.

やってみた方が早いかもな まず俺が人を描く えーと 佐倉 ベタ 終わりました
Manga: Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun 月刊少女野崎くん (Volume 1, Chapter 3, Page 38, 御子柴くんのお仕事)
  • Context: Nozaki 野崎 is a manga author with two assistants: Sakura 佐倉 and Mikoshiba 御子柴. Sakura's job is filling areas with black ink. Sakura has doubts about what Mikoshiba's job is supposed to be, so Nozaki says:
  • yatte-mita hou ga hayai kamo na
    Doing [it] [once] may be faster. (than explaining it with words.)
  • mazu ore ga hito wo kaku
    First, I draw a person.
  • eeto, Sakura, beta, owarimashita
    えーと 佐倉 ベタ 終わりました
    Erm, Sakura, black ink, finished.

By the way, a "beta flash," or beta-fura ベタフラ, is a flash of light rendering by painting the rest of the panel black.

Manga: Assassination Classroom, Ansatsu Kyoushitsu 暗殺教室 (Chapter 1, 暗殺の時間)
  • nyari

Other related terms:

Examples of glossy manga hair drawn using black ink.
Manga: Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon, 美少女戦士セーラームーン (Chapter 6, タキシード仮面 Tuxedo Mask, Altered)
  • tsuya-beta
    "Glossy beta." The term for highlights rendered on the hair of characters by painting most of the hair black, except the highlight.

Shinkouhyou 申公豹, example of beta-me ベタ目.
Character: Shinkouhyou 申公豹
Manga: Houshin Engi 封神演義 (Chapter 8, 序章の終わり)
  • beta-me
    "Beta eyes." Eyes drawn in manga using just the color black, without highlights or gradients.
  • shiro-nuki
    "White-extracting." Something that's drawn in white color on a black background, e.g. white letters on a black background.


The word beta ベタ doesn't mean "sticky," but it's part of words that do mean "sticky."
  • betabeta
    *sticky* *glue-y* (reduplication)
    Very clichéd, etc.
    • betabeta na secchaku-zai
      A sticky adhesive.
  • betatto
    Stickily. (adverb.)
    • betatto tsuite-iru
      To attach stickily. To glue on.
  • beta-tsuku
    To stick to. To glue onto.
    To be sticky. (because it glues on your fingers, etc.)

Manga: Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon, 美少女戦士セーラームーン (Chapter 1, うさぎ SAILOR MOON)
  • Context: two girls press their hands and face against the glass pane of a store to see what's inside.
  • bettaa
    *sticking to the pane*


The word beta ベタ can also refer to a sort of fish: the betta. Its native Japanese name is:
  • tougyo
    "Fighting fish." (literally.)
    Betta. (genus.)

Greek Letter

For completeness, "beta" as in the "beta version," or alpha and beta, is katakanized with a long vowel in Japanese:
  • beeta
    Beta. β.
  • beeta-ban
    Beta version.

See Greek letters for the whole list.


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