"Here comes Johnny M. again,
with the OED
etymology . . ."
-- Iggy Pop, "Lust for Language"


Have a look at Webster 1913's take on "valor". Sense 1 is "value", not "courage", and it's the same with the OED: "Courage" comes in at sense 3. The OED's sense 1 is "The amount in money, etc., that a thing is worth", and their sense 2 is "intrinsic worth or merit". Who knew?

Things change. "To valorize", the verb, is going by sense 1 in both of the above, with some extra specificity tacked on: "To raise or stabilize the value of (a commodity, etc.) by a centrally organized scheme; gen. to evaluate, to make valid" (OED). Their first print usage of "valorize" is 1921, just in time for John Maynard Keynes, and their first print usage of "valorization" is 1907. That's close; I doubt that the former is a back-formation.

The OED doesn't have much to say about etymology. They have "valor" derived directly from Medieval Latin, meaning "price" or "value". They refer back to that in "valorization" and "valorize".

www.m-w.com tells us that it's from the Portuguese valorizar, which is in turn from the Medieval Latin "valor". I don't believe the Portuguese bit: It's too pat and too far-fetched at the same time. All it's really got going for it is the 'z', which is a standard way of verbizing (see what I mean?) nouns in English already. Since the noun already existed in English anyway (from Latin, as advertised), I see no need to drag Portuguese into it: "Etymologies should not be multiplied beyond necessity".

So there we have it: US agricultural policy (soil banks, etc.) is for the most part a gargantuan valorization scheme, for example. sensei uses the term more figuratively in his Shinto writeup. It's a good word. Don't use it.

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