Beta Male

What is a beta male?

A submissive male

A beta male, or beta, is a guy who shows submissive or passive characteristics. Alpha males may describe males they consider weak or inferior as "betas."

Women may also use the term "beta" to refer to men who don't lead well. For example, if a man dislikes taking initiative or making decisions, a girl might call him a beta male.

Origin of beta male

The slang term "beta male" originates from L. David Mech's zoological hierarchy theory from the 1960s about packs of wolves where a wolf takes the place of the "alpha," leading the pack, whereas "beta" wolves submit to the alpha's leadership. Some psychologists and authors began applying this theory to human social hierarchies, especially in dating contexts, despite the intricacies of human personalities and behavior.

The theory's popularity increased significantly in the 2010s on social media, where users found it helpful to categorize people (primarily men) as alpha or beta personalities. Now, you may hear or see people describe romantic compatibility through the alpha/beta lens (especially online in forums or social sites like Reddit and X) or as a general criticism to put down men who lack traditional leadership characteristics, such as strength, confidence, and assertiveness.


So many of the men I meet on dating apps are beta males
A couple of different views on beta males
A couple of different views on beta males

Related Slang


Updated February 6, 2024

Beta male definition by

This page explains what the slang term "Beta male" means. The definition, example, and related terms listed above have been written and compiled by the team.

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