valence

noun

va·​lence ˈvā-lən(t)s How to pronounce valence (audio)
1
: the degree of combining power of an element as shown by the number of atomic weights of a monovalent element (such as hydrogen) with which the atomic weight of the element will combine or for which it can be substituted or with which it can be compared
2
a
: relative capacity to unite, react, or interact (as with antigens or a biological substrate)
b
[in part from valence in chemistry, in part borrowed from Late Latin valentia "power, capacity," noun derivative of Latin valent-, valens, present participle of valēre "to have strength, be well" — more at wield] : the degree of attractiveness an individual, activity, or thing possesses as a behavioral goal
the relative potency of the valences of success and failureLeon Festinger

Examples of valence in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web At other points, these valences have flipped perfectly. Jonah Weiner, New York Times, 3 Mar. 2024 Twenty-seven percent of the words in that one sentence have a positive valence – even out of context. Eli Amdur, Forbes, 24 Feb. 2024 The violence of January 6th has become a touchstone for Biden, too, but with a different valence. Evan Osnos, The New Yorker, 4 Mar. 2024 There are several pitfalls that can occur from the overuse of anger and fear in marketing, such as negative emotional valence in your customer base, bad brand reputation, loss of brand trust and polarization. Leslie Poston, Forbes, 29 Feb. 2024 There’s a generational valence to his fixation on the embarrassment of living—a millennial complaint about the awkwardness of having been groomed for plum roles in an end-of-history pageant that never came to be. Julian Lucas, The New Yorker, 8 Jan. 2024 Scenes that are topical one season can take on unexpected valences the next. Helen Shaw, The New Yorker, 11 Jan. 2024 Others liked it precisely because of its political valence. Kate Knibbs, WIRED, 2 Jan. 2024 But its fixation on illness and death also gives it a darker valence. Julian Lucas, The New Yorker, 8 Aug. 2023

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

Word History

Etymology

borrowed from German Valenz, short for Quantivalenz "(chemical) valence," borrowed from English quantivalence, from Latin quantus "how much" + -i- -i- + English -valence, noun derivative from -valent, in univalent entry 1, bivalent entry 1, etc., on the model of equivalent, equivalence — more at quantity

First Known Use

1884, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of valence was in 1884

Dictionary Entries Near valence

Cite this Entry

“Valence.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/valence. Accessed 12 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

valence

noun
va·​lence ˈvā-lən(t)s How to pronounce valence (audio)
: the combining power of an atom as shown by the number of electrons in its outermost energy level that are lost, gained, or shared in the formation of chemical bonds

Medical Definition

valence

noun
va·​lence ˈvā-lən(t)s How to pronounce valence (audio)
1
a
: the degree of combining power of an element or radical as shown by the number of atomic weights of a monovalent element (as hydrogen) with which the atomic weight of the element or the partial molecular weight of the radical will combine or for which it can be substituted or with which it can be compared
b
: a unit of valence
the four valences of carbon
2
a
: relative capacity to unite, react, or interact (as with antigens or a biological substrate)
b
: the degree of attractiveness an individual, activity, or object possesses as a behavioral goal
the relative potency of the valences of success and failureLeon Festinger

Geographical Definition

Valence

geographical name

Va·​lence va-ˈläⁿs How to pronounce Valence (audio)
commune in southeastern France south of Lyon population 63,405

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