Per Random House Webster's College Dictionary, Ed. 1991,


  1. suitable or ready for use; of use or service; at hand: I used whatever tools were available.

  2. readily obtainable; accessible: available resources.

  3. Having sufficient power or efficacy; valid.


  1. sound; just; well-founded: a valid reason.

  2. producing the desired result; effective: a valid antidote for gloom.

  3. having force, weight, or cogency; authoritative.

  4. legally sound, effective, or binding; having legal force: a valid contract.

Per Collins-Robert English-French Ditionary, Ed. 1985,



(a) [material, people] disponibilité f

(b) (US: validity) validité f



(a) personnel disponible; thing disponible, utilisable

(b) (US: valid) valable, valide (for pour)

My question is, what's the difference between "available" and "valid" in the sense "having sufficient power or efficacy"?

In addition, absent clear context, "can't the word "available" sound sort of ambiguous as to whether it's "obtainable/accessible" or "having sufficient power or efficacy" that actually is meant?

Please, consider the following example:

The period for which these tickets are available is 3 months

The period of availability for these tickets is 3 months

could be understood as meaning,

The period for which these tickets are obtainable/accessible is 3 months

But also,

The period for which these tickets are valid (=effective) is 3 months

  • I don't think available can be used in the sense of effective for your tickets example. You'll need to use valid there. You could say that you might make some service available for 3 months (similar to valid for 3 months) - e.g. If you purchase this ticket, the theatre will be made available to you for 3 months. What example does your dictionary give for the third sense of available?
    – Lawrence
    Feb 7 '16 at 13:25
  • @Lawrence None. However, Harrap's English-French Dictionary states for "available:" (Chiefly AmEng) (of train ticket, etc.) valable, bon, valide (pour deux mois, etc.); utilisable; period for which a ticket is available, durée de validité d'un billet.
    – Elian
    Feb 7 '16 at 13:34
  • @PeterShor Or Harrap's is giving a BrEng usage, erroneously marking it as AmEng. This sometimes happens with bilingual dictionaries. Collins-Robert's definition is more ambiguous, though, as to what actually is meant by "available (US: valid)." My guess is that it's the political sense of "available" that is supported here. E.g. C'est un candidat valable (Fr.); He's a valid candidate (BrEng/AmEng); He's an available candidate (Chiefly AmEng). wordreference.com/fren/valable
    – Elian
    Feb 7 '16 at 15:09
  • @PeterShor books.google.com/ngrams/…
    – Elian
    Feb 7 '16 at 15:29

Look in Merriam-Webster, definition 2.

Available: valid—used of a legal plea or charge.

Similarly, the OED says:

1b: in Law. Valid.

It's a specialized usage, and cannot be used for concert or train tickets. The OED also gives a (probably obsolete) U.S. political sense of available; it seems that a candidate was available if he had a good chance of winning. However, this really isn't a synonym of valid.


The word available can mean valid for train tickets in the U.K. and other countries, but I have never seen this usage in the U.S. See the comments.


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