what is multivalence?

Valentia is a Latin word meaning vigour or capacity. Valency is might, power or strength, but also the power or capacity to create something new through interactions with the world. In chemistry, it’s the capacity of an element to combine with or displace a higher or lower number of other elements. In linguistics, the susceptibility of a word to combine with less or more meanings.

Being ambivalent means having a valency of 2 towards a certain subject. I used to think ambivalence was my natural state. Everything could be either one way or the other. Until I discovered it could be more. And that I can’t, won’t, shall not settle for any less number of combinations with reality than what the full range of my valency allows.

Multivalence is my new ambivalence.


.. all definitions taken from OED


multivalent, a.

– in chemistry: having a valency of 3 or more, i.e. the capacity to combine with or displace a greater number of other atoms; polyvalent;
– in medicine: of an antiserum or vaccine, containing antibodies to more than one toxin;
– in linguistics: having or open to many different applications, interpretations, meanings, or values.