Professional Style

Invaluable vs. Valuable

February 2015
Spot the Error

Joanna made an invaluable contribution to her alma mater—four bars of solid gold.

As of today, the price of gold is $1,214 an ounce. The price range of a gold bar is $46 (for a one-gram bar) to $12,387 (for a ten-ounce bar). That being said, Joanna’s gift is not invaluable.

Let’s take a step back. The word valuable means having monetary worth or capable of being valued. Valuable also means having high monetary worth.

Now for the prefix in. We all know that in- means not ... inconceivable, not conceivable … inhumane, not humane … invaluable, not valuable … MEANING incapable of being valued.

In the “gold bar” sentence above, Joanna’s gift might be considered generous or handsome. However, since the gift is capable of being valued, it is not invaluable.

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