“Veil” and “vale” sound the same but have different meanings. So, how do you make sure you use the right word in your writing? Check out our tips below.
Veil (Fabric Covering the Face)
As a noun, “veil” refers to a piece of light, finely woven material, typically worn by women to cover their faces or as part of a head-dress:
The bride wore a white veil trimmed with Belgium lace.
More generally, “veil” can refer to anything that covers or conceals something:
There is a veil of secrecy around the new party’s manifesto.
A veil of mist hid the valley from view.
It follows, then, that the verb “veil” means “obscure or hide something”:
The grieving widow veiled her face.
A thick cloud veiled the mountain tops.
When he heard the news, he was unable to veil his disappointment.
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In both cases, though, “veil” is always related to concealing something.
The noun “vale” is an old-fashioned term that refers to a valley. These days, you will only usually see it used in place names or in literature:
The Vale of Glamorgan is an area in the south of Wales.
O’er the hill and o’er the vale/Come three kings together.
You might also come across the phrase “vale of tears.” This is a literary term, drawn from Christianity, referring to life on earth as a source of great sorrow and tragedy.
Summary: Veil or Vale?
These words are easy to mix up because they sound identical. But remember:
Veil can be a noun or a verb. As a noun, it refers to something that conceals, typically a light fabric face covering. As a verb, it means “hide or obscure.”
Vale is an old-fashioned noun meaning “valley.”
Keep in mind that “vale” is a very rare term outside of place names and literature these days. And if you’re referring to some form of concealment or covering, whether as a noun or a verb, the correct spelling will always be “veil.”
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