river-land between two ranges of hills, early 14c., from Old French val "valley, vale" (12c.), from Latin vallem (nominative vallis, valles) "valley" (see valley). Now "little used except in poetry" [Century Dictionary]. Vale of years "old age" is from "Othello." Vale of tears "this world as a place of trouble" is attested from 1550s. An older phrase in the same sense was dale of dol (mid-15c.).