In geology
Geology is the science comprising the study of solid Earth, the rocks of which it is composed, and the processes by which it evolves. Geology gives insight into the history of the Earth, as it provides the primary evidence for plate tectonics, the evolutionary history of life, and past climates...

, a valley or dale
Dale (origin)
A dale is an open valley. The name is used when describing the physical geography of an area. It is used most frequently in the Lowlands of Scotland and in the North of England, where the term "fell" commonly refers to the mountains or hills that flank the dale.The word dale comes from the Old...

is a depression
Depression (geology)
A depression in geology is a landform sunken or depressed below the surrounding area. Depressions may be formed by various mechanisms.Structural or tectonic related:...

 with predominant extent in one direction. A very deep river
A river is a natural watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, a lake, a sea, or another river. In a few cases, a river simply flows into the ground or dries up completely before reaching another body of water. Small rivers may also be called by several other names, including...

 valley may be called a canyon
A canyon or gorge is a deep ravine between cliffs often carved from the landscape by a river. Rivers have a natural tendency to reach a baseline elevation, which is the same elevation as the body of water it will eventually drain into. This forms a canyon. Most canyons were formed by a process of...

 or gorge.

The terms U-shaped
U-shaped valley
A U-shaped valley also known as a glacial trough is one formed by the process of glaciation. It has a characteristic U-shape, with steep, straight sides, and a flat bottom. Glaciated valleys are formed when a glacier travels across and down a slope, carving the valley by the action of scouring...

 and V-shaped are descriptive terms of geography
Geography is the science that studies the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of Earth. A literal translation would be "to describe or write about the Earth". The first person to use the word "geography" was Eratosthenes...

 to characterize the form of valleys. Most valleys belong to one of these two main types or a mixture of them, at least with respect of the cross section
Cross section (geometry)
In geometry, a cross-section is the intersection of a figure in 2-dimensional space with a line, or of a body in 3-dimensional space with a plane, etc...

 of the slopes or hillsides.
A valley in its broadest geographic sense is also known as a dale.