According to the Cambridge dictionary, one of the meaning of "denomination" is:

a unit of value, especially of money

Is it wrong/unusual to use "value" instead of "denomination" in this context? Example:

  • The machines take coins of any denomination.
  • The machines take coins of any value.
  • It's potentially a little less specific—'value' could theoretically also be interpreted as the total amount the machines would accept at once, while 'denomination' is unambiguous—but I imagine most people would interpret both sentences the same way. I wouldn't call it wrong or unusual. – AmaiKotori Nov 13 '19 at 16:18

Technically ...

The denomination of a coin is what it says on the coin. It's objective.

Techincally, the value is subjective and can change according to supply and demand and other factors.

For example, you might pay $10, using a $10 bill for a bottle of water if you are extremely thirsty in a hot desert after not drinking anything for most of the day. The value of that water at that moment is $10, but the bill is still a $10 bill.

Later, after you aren't so thirsty, you might only pay 50 cents for the same amount of water. The value of the water to you has decreased, but 50 cents is still 50 cents and $10 is still $10.

Now ... what is the value of $10 in and of itself? In most stable economies, value and denomination are stable. You know what you can get for $10 and it stays the same usually -- at least in the short term. So value and denomination are often synonymous. For economies that are not stable, or when talking about times that are affected by inflation, value and denomination won't match.

  • I am not sure I follow. I know that the value of an object is subjective, but the numeric value / denomination of a bill or a coin is always the same independent of inflation. My question is if "value" can be used instead of "denomination" when it refers to the number of monetary units represented by a bill/coin, not if "denomination" can be used instead of "value" in any context. Ex: if today a bottle of water costs $ 10, I can pay it with a $10 bill. If tomorrow the same bottle costs $1000, I need 100 $10 bills to pay it, but the value/denomination of each bill is equal in both cases AFAIK. – Alan Evangelista Nov 14 '19 at 11:06
  • I guess here's a better example. 1960's silver dimes - the denomination is 10 cents, the value is much higher. – LawrenceC Nov 15 '19 at 23:34

A 100 Armenian Ruble note has a denomination of 100 Armenian Rubles. It is, however, probably valueless. Or it may have a value to collectors considerably in excess of whatever 100 Armenian Rubles would be worth today at the historic exchange rate.


"Denomination" generally refers to the specific details things of a similar type, whether branches of religion( "What denomination is that church?" or of currency. "Value," as used in your example, is certainly understandable, as well.


I feel you’d be unlikely to see “denomination”, on what I assume to be a public-facing machine, as many might not understand it.

“Value” you may see, but I feel it would more likely just be something like:

The machine accepts all coins.

I also feel that there’d be a possibility that you would still see every denomination listed, even if it’s all of them, just to be totally clear and explicit.


In the Computer Science context you mentioned, I'd probably specify the currency. You may hear something like:

The machine accepts coins of any denomination of the United States dollar.

I'll be honest though, this is the kind of sentence that even many native speakers would struggle to figure out how to phrase correctly (in a way that is erudite but also easy to read), even Computer Scientists. If they know the word "denomination", they'll probably try to use it, and figure out the best way of phrasing it.

  • So "denomination" is a more formal term, as I suspected. FYI the context in which I have seen it is a Computer Science problem. – Alan Evangelista Nov 14 '19 at 8:14
  • It is, I probably would have had to look it up myself, although, to be honest, you can sort of get it just because it couldn't really mean anything else. – Chris Mack Nov 14 '19 at 8:51
  • In fact, "denomination" can also mean two other very different things: "a religious subgroup of a religion" (eg The Reform movement is the largest of the Jewish denominations) or "a particular name for something or someone" (eg The correct denomination for the crime is "aggravated murder"). In my native language (Portuguese), the corresponding word only can have the last meaning, therefore I got confused when I have seen "denomination" used with the meaning "value" for the 1st time. If you meant that the meaning "value" of the word "denomination" is obvious in the context with coins, I agree. – Alan Evangelista Nov 14 '19 at 11:02

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