A valve is a device that controls the flow of a liquid or gas. Before you fix the broken sink in your bathroom, you should turn the valve that shuts off the water.
The simplest type of valve has a hinged flap allowing liquid to flow one direction, but blocking it from going the other way. This is called a "check valve." Anatomical valves — systems in your body that allow a flow of fluid, like the aortic valve near your heart — are structured very much the same way. The shells of mollusks like oysters and clams are also called valves. The word's earliest meaning was "one half of a folding door."