Old English bettra, earlier betera, from Proto-Germanic *batizo-, from PIE *bhad- "good;" see best. Comparative adjective of good in the older Germanic languages (cf. Old Frisian betera, Old Saxon betiro, Old Norse betr, Danish bedre, Old High German bezziro, German besser, Gothic batiza). In English it superseded bet in the adverbial sense by 1600. Better half "wife" is first attested 1570s.