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[vey-luh ns]
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  1. Chemistry.
    1. the quality that determines the number of atoms or groups with which any single atom or group will unite chemically.
    2. the relative combining capacity of an atom or group compared with that of the standard hydrogen atom. The chloride ion, Cl–, with a valence of one, has the capacity to unite with one atom of hydrogen or its equivalent, as in HCl or NaCl.
  2. Immunology. the number of determinants per molecule of antigen.
  3. the capacity of one person or thing to react with or affect another in some special way, as by attraction or the facilitation of a function or activity.
Also valency.

Origin of valence

1865–70; < Latin valentia strength, worth, equivalent to valent- (stem of valēns), present participle to be strong + -ia noun suffix; see -ence
Can be confusedvalance valence


  1. a city in and the capital of Drôme, in SE France.


  1. a department in SE France. 2533 sq. mi. (6560 sq. km). Capital: Valence.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for valence

Historical Examples

  • By the time we reach Valence, soon after mid-day, we have passed one barge only.

    The Roof of France

    Matilda Betham-Edwards

  • We leave them in the early morning and get down into the windy station at Valence.

    Another Sheaf

    John Galsworthy

  • (p. 079) The agreeable and studious life at Valence was soon ended.

    The Life of Napoleon Bonaparte

    William Milligan Sloane

  • Arrived at Valence, he found that the old society had vanished.

    The Life of Napoleon Bonaparte

    William Milligan Sloane

  • He, Valence, knew Marie, and could not be mistaken in her identity.

British Dictionary definitions for valence


noun chem
  1. another name (esp US and Canadian) for valency
  2. the phenomenon of forming chemical bonds


  1. a town in SE France, on the River Rhône. Pop: 64 260 (1999)


  1. a department of SE France, in Rhône-Alpes region. Capital: Valence. Pop: 452 652 (2003 est. Area: 6561 sq km (2559 sq miles)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for valence


early 15c., "extract, preparation," from Latin valentia "strength, capacity," from valentem (nominative valens), present participle of valere "be strong" (see valiant). Meaning "combining power of an element" is recorded from 1884, from German Valenz (1868), from the Latin word.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

valence in Medicine


([object Object])
  1. The combining capacity of an atom or radical that is determined by the number of electrons that it will lose, add, or share when it reacts with other atoms.
  2. A positive or negative integer used to represent this capacity.
  3. The number of components of an antigen molecule to which an antibody molecule can bind.
  4. The attraction or aversion that an individual feels toward a specific object or event.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

valence in Science


  1. A whole number that represents the ability of an atom or a group of atoms to combine with other atoms or groups of atoms. The valence is determined by the number of electrons that an atom can lose, add, or share. An atom's valence is positive if its own electrons are used in forming the bond, or negative if another atom's electrons are used. For example, a carbon atom can share four of its electrons with other atoms and therefore has a valence of +4. A sodium atom can receive an electron from another atom and therefore has a valence of -1. (In this book the distinction between positive and negative valences is ignored unless it is relevant.) The valence of an atom generally indicates how many chemical bonds it is capable of forming with other atoms. Also called valence number oxidation state
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

valence in Culture



A number characterizing an atom, equal to the number of valence electrons.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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