early 14c. (late 12c. in surnames), "brave, courageous, intrepid in danger," from Anglo-French vaylant, and Old French vaillant "stalwart, brave," present-participle adjective from valoir "be worthy," originally "be strong," from Latin valere "be strong, be well, be worth, have power, be able, be in health," from PIE root *wal- "to be strong." As a noun, "valiant person," from c. 1600. Related: Valiantly.