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val·​e·​dic·​to·​ry ˌva-lə-ˈdik-t(ə-)rē How to pronounce valedictory (audio)
: of or relating to a valediction : expressing or containing a farewell


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plural valedictories
: an address or statement of farewell or leave-taking

Did you know?

Valedictory addresses delivered by earnest young valedictorians at high school and college graduations are as much a sign of spring in the United States as baseball games and cookouts. Though we don’t know where the first valedictory address was given, we do know that the word was an institution at some colleges in the U.S. by the mid-1700s. English speakers and writers have also used valedictory in non-academic settings since the mid-1600s. Since a valedictory speech is given at the end of an academic career, it is perfectly in keeping with the meaning of its Latin ancestor, valedicere, which means "to say farewell."

Examples of valedictory in a Sentence

Adjective a valedictory address given by the college president upon his retirement Noun He received a very warm valedictory for his long career.
Recent Examples on the Web
But the olive branch is a reminder of the valedictory nature of most formal portraits. Philip Kennicott, Washington Post, 13 Dec. 2023 Brief, bounded, securely valedictory, as a form the wedding speech is perhaps not well suited to the twin relationship, which is both totalizing and ambivalent. Jean Garnett, The New Yorker, 10 July 2023 Given the robustness of her health and high levels of public support—in 2006, a MORI poll found eighty-five per cent of respondents satisfied ‘with the way the Queen is doing her job as Monarch’—there was little that was valedictory about the next ten years. Matthew Dennison, Town & Country, 1 Sep. 2021 That’s on top of several valedictory parties for staff and friends. Benjamin Oreskes, Los Angeles Times, 3 Dec. 2022 But those changes didn't hurt Youngkin, who comfortably beat Democrat Terry McAuliffe, a popular former governor seeking a valedictory term. CBS News, 3 Nov. 2021 But those changes didn’t hurt Youngkin, who comfortably beat Democrat Terry McAuliffe, a popular former governor seeking a valedictory term., 3 Nov. 2021 In 2017 Ng summarized his vision in a valedictory post on the blogging platform Medium announcing his resignation from the Chinese technology company Baidu. Sue Halpern, The New York Review of Books, 8 Apr. 2021 This shoot, with Vodianova as Farrand, model Karen Elson as her close friend and patron Mildred Bliss, and the actor Aldis Hodge as David Williston, the pioneering Black landscape artist who was Farrand’s peer, has a valedictory air. Chloe Malle, Vogue, 17 Aug. 2021
In this valedictory speech, Aron argues that liberty is the essential feature of Western democracy. Raymond Aron, Foreign Affairs, 20 Feb. 2024 His valedictory speech was both a scorching evisceration of his party’s cowardice in dealing with Trump and a bracing reminder of the stakes of this election. Susan B. Glasser, The New Yorker, 11 Jan. 2024 Painfully earnest, and committed to both historical and cultural accuracy, Scorsese has teamed with friends old and newer, starting with his decades-long collaborator Robert De Niro, who joins him in what feels like a valedictory dance exposing America’s violent history. Brian Lowry, CNN, 19 Oct. 2023 In the 71st minute, midfielder Rose Lavelle, who like Rapinoe has been fighting injuries coming into this World Cup and came in as a second-half sub, set Rapinoe up for a valedictory goal. Sean Gregory, Time, 22 July 2023 Michael Love, who had paroled from Folsom Prison five months earlier, came back to give the valedictory speech. Aaron Morrison,, 3 July 2023 Michael Love, who had been paroled from Folsom Prison five months earlier, came back to give the valedictory speech. Aaron Morrison, The Christian Science Monitor, 29 June 2023 Williams also plans to play in the doubles competition with her sister Venus, herself a seven-time Grand Slam singles champion, but Monday was always going to be Serena Williams’s valedictory, or the start of it, a night that, win-or-lose, would be a celebration. Matthew Futterman, New York Times, 29 Aug. 2022 Johnson, in his last weeks in office after resigning amid pressure from his fellow Conservative Party members following a string of scandals, was making a valedictory visit in Kyiv after being among the first world leaders to come forward with economic and military assistance to Ukraine. John Hudson, Washington Post, 24 Aug. 2022 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'valedictory.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



borrowed from New Latin valedictōrius, from Latin valedic-, alternate stem of vale dīcere, valedīcere "to say goodbye" + -tōrius, adjective suffix (originally derivatives of agent nouns ending in -tōr-, -tor) — more at valediction


noun derivative of valedictory entry 1

First Known Use


1651, in the meaning defined above


1779, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of valedictory was in 1651


Dictionary Entries Near valedictory

Cite this Entry

“Valedictory.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


: of or relating to a leaving : expressing a farewell

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