I read a sentence in "The Hindu" which was:

As though the knowledge gained over centuries of lived experience is of somehow lower valency than the literacy acquired in a school.

I couldn't find any relevant definition of this word in this context.

2 Answers 2


The Cambridge Dictionary defines:

valency (noun) = a measurement that shows the number of hydrogen atoms that can combine with one atom of a particular chemical element to make a compound, used to describe how easily an element can connect in a chemical way with others.

Of course, that is not the meaning intended, the sentence is definitely not about anything chemistry related.

In this context, "valency" might be understood better as "value" (although it is not a direct meaning in any way):

X has lower value than Y


As though the knowledge gained over centuries of lived experience is of somehow lower value than the literacy acquired in a school.

So the global meaning of the sentence, as I understand it, is:

As if knowledge ... has lower value than literacy ...

Of course, this sentence is just a fragment of a bigger idea. The bigger idea assumes that there were some claims made, and these claims are about "literacy from school" having a greater value than "centuries of experience". And this sentence tries to underline that those claims cannot be true.


According to dictionary.com, valence means:

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.

So, in the context, it means that humans have somewhat been less attracted to the real knowledge that experience has given them throughout history as compared to the literal studies taught at schools.

  • 1
    Are you sure you understood the right message? I understand something completely different... Now I am curious which of us is right... :)
    – virolino
    Apr 2, 2019 at 5:15
  • @virolino Try just putting the definition in that word. What meaning do you understood?
    – Bella Swan
    Apr 2, 2019 at 5:21
  • 1
    I wrote as answer with my point of view. I could not compress it to fit a comment.
    – virolino
    Apr 2, 2019 at 5:32
  • @virolino The answer only consists of the real quote, I think
    – Bella Swan
    Apr 2, 2019 at 6:09
  • I am not sure what you mean by "real quote" :(
    – virolino
    Apr 2, 2019 at 6:13

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