Definition of valence in English:



  • 1The combining power of an element, especially as measured by the number of hydrogen atoms it can displace or combine with.

    ‘carbon always has a valence of 4’
    • ‘Addition reactions of inorganic molecules occur when an atom has more than one valence.’
    • ‘The valence of a unit is closely tied up with its dependence.’
    • ‘One rather unsuccessful idea which he embarked on quite late in his career was to apply invariant theory to chemical valences.’
    • ‘In covalent compounds the valence of an atom may be less obvious.’
    • ‘Thus, the most obvious approach would be to use the Gouy-Chapman equation or its generalized formulation for electrolytes with mixed valences, the Grahame equation.’
    1. 1.1[as modifier]Relating to or denoting electrons involved in or available for chemical bond formation.
      ‘molecules with unpaired valence electrons’
      • ‘The metalloids have an intermediate number of valence electrons.’
      • ‘Oxygen has six valence electrons.’
      • ‘Nonmetals with eight valence electrons are chemically unreactive.’
      • ‘The electrons in the highest energy level are called valence electrons.’
      • ‘These superconductors usually contain more oxygen atoms than predicted by valence theory.’
    2. 1.2Linguistics
      The number of grammatical elements with which a particular word, especially a verb, combines in a sentence.
      • ‘Literature has reported valences of five and higher, but no substantiation of these has ever been shown.’
      • ‘The semantic valence attributed to a hieroglyphic language is two-edged.’
      • ‘The authors compared the responses of 20 highs with 20 lows on ratings of the valence of neutral words that were preceded by subliminal presentations of negative or neutral images.’
      • ‘The valence of specific words and expressions communicates sexual potency and the lack thereof.’


Late Middle English: from late Latin valentia power, competence from valere be well or strong.