a covalent bond forming h2
(right) where two hydrogen atoms
share the two electrons
a covalent bond, also called a molecular bond, is a chemical bond that involves the sharing of electron pairs between atoms. these electron pairs are known as shared pairs or bonding pairs, and the stable balance of attractive and repulsive forces between atoms, when they share electrons, is known as covalent bonding. for many molecules, the sharing of electrons allows each atom to attain the equivalent of a full outer shell, corresponding to a stable electronic configuration. in organic chemistry, covalent bonds are much more common than ionic bonds.
covalent bonding includes many kinds of interactions, including σ-bonding, π-bonding, metal-to-metal bonding, agostic interactions, bent bonds, and three-center two-electron bonds. the term covalent bond dates from 1939. the prefix co- means jointly, associated in action, partnered to a lesser degree, etc.; thus a "co-valent bond", in essence, means that the atoms share "valence", such as is discussed in valence bond theory.
in the molecule h
2, the hydrogen atoms share the two electrons via covalent bonding. covalency is greatest between atoms of similar electronegativities. thus, covalent bonding does not necessarily require that the two atoms be of the same elements, only that they be of comparable electronegativity. covalent bonding that entails sharing of electrons over more than two atoms is said to be delocalized.