Webster 1913 Edition
is the second letter of the English alphabet. (See Guide to Pronunciation, §§ 196, 220.) It is etymologically related to p, v, f, w, and m, letters representing sounds having a close organic affinity to its own sound; as in Eng. bursar and purser; Eng. bear and Lat. ferre; Eng. silver and Ger. silber; Lat. cubitum and It. gomito; Eng. seven, Anglo-Saxon seofon, Ger. sieben, Lat. septem, Gr.
ἑπτά, Sanskrit saptan. The form of letter B is Roman, from the Greek B (Beta), of Semitic origin. The small b was formed by gradual change from the capital B.
(Music), B is the nominal of the seventh tone in the model major scale (the scale of C major), or of the second tone in it’s relative minor scale (that of A minor). B♭ stands for B flat, the tone a half step, or semitone, lower than B. In German, B stands for our B♭, while our B natural is called H (pronounced hä).
Webster 1828 Edition
Bis the second letter, and the first articulation, or consonant, in the English, as in the Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and most other alphabets. In the Ethiopic, it is the ninth letter, and its shape is that of a hut. Perhaps from this or other like figure, it received its Hebrew name, beth, a house. It is a mute and a labial, being formed by pressing the whole length of the lips together, as in pronouncing eb. It is less perfectly mute than p, as may be perceived by pronouncing the syllables ab and ap. It is convertible, 1st, with p, as in the Celtic, ben or pen, a mountain; in the English, beak and peak, beck and peck; 2d, with v, as in the German, silber for silver; and in Spanish, b and v are used indifferently; 3d, with f, as in bore and perforo; Eng. bear, L.fero;in the celtic bun,bunadh, bunait, stock,origin,foundation; English,found; L.fundamentum; with the Gr.as Bilip; 4th,with the v and w; as,Ir.fior, L. verus; fear, vir; Ir. buaic, the wick of a candle.
The Greek B is always pronounced like the English V, and the Russian B corresponds with the Greek.
In composition, the letter B is changed into p before the letter p; as in opprimo, from ob and premo; oppono, from ob and pono; into f, before f, as in offero, from ob and fero; into c before c, as in occido, from ob and cado, and coedo.
As a numeral, B was used by the Hebrews and Greeks, as now by the Arabians, for 2; by the Romans for 300, and with a dash over it thus B, for 3000. B is used also as an abbreviation; thus B.A. stand for bachelor of arts; B.L. for bachelor of laws; B.D. for bachelor of divinity; B.F. before the decrees of the old Romans, for bonum factum. In music, B stands for the tone above A; for B flat,or the semi-tone major above A. B also stands for base, and