The words “valance” and “valence” can sound similar, so it’s not surprising that writers often use one when they mean the other. In this post, we explain what each of these words means, and we provide helpful tips for remembering which is which.
Valance (A Decorative Cover)
A “valance” is a decorative piece of fabric designed to hide the base of a bed and anything underneath. It is also known as a “bed skirt”! For example:
Is there a valance to go with this duvet cover?
The twin beds in the spare room had matching floral valances.
In American English, “valance” can also refer to a short window covering that hides the top of curtains and their fittings:
A simple valance made the window look neat and up-to-date.
In British English, this type of valance is called a “pelmet.”
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Valence (Chemistry and Psychology)
“Valence” is a term used in chemistry to denote the capacity of atoms to combine with other atoms. For example, you might use it as follows:
The valence of nitrogen is 3.
In psychology, meanwhile, “valence” is another word for hedonic tone. It refers to the pleasantness or unpleasantness of an object, situation, or emotion. For example, an unpleasant emotion like fear has “negative valence.”
Summary: Valance or Valence?
Because these words are homophones (i.e, they sound similar) and have similar spellings, it can be easy to get them confused. Remember:
A valanceis fabric used to hide the base of a bed or the top of curtains.
Valence is a term used in chemistry and psychology.
If you’re writing about soft furnishings, keep in mind that a valance can add to the elegance of a room. Hopefully, the identical endings of the words valance and elegance will remind you of the correct spelling to use.
Valence, on the other hand, has the same ending as science, so if your subject matter is chemistry or psychology, valence is more likely to be the word you need.
Hopefully, this will help you spell these words correctly. It’s always a good idea to get a proofreader to check your work if you want to be sure it is error free, though! You can even send us 500-word sample document for free.