Labels vs Stickers – The Great Debate

OK, so maybe it isn’t a great debate, but it is an interesting question I think. What is the difference between a label and a sticker?

A look in the Merriam-Webster dictionary gives us some clues. Label has five different meanings here, but the one meaning we are interested in says "a slip (as of paper or cloth) inscribed and affixed to something for identification or description." For sticker the dictionary says "a slip of paper with adhesive back that can be fastened to a surface". So the key difference here is that a label is used for identification or description, and a sticker is far more general.

So the "slip of paper" that is on a product on the supermarket shelf is usually called a label, and the "slip of paper" that your kid sticks on his skateboard is called a sticker. If we think about it when browsing for wine in the liquor store we don’t look at the "wine stickers" on the bottles we look at the "wine labels". Even though wine stickers would not actually be incorrect, wine labels is a more accurate description because the purpose is for identification and description.

In reality people use the terms labels and stickers synonymously and that is just fine. Whether you call them custom labels or custom stickers, here at Lightning Labels we will be happy to print them for you.

4 thoughts on “Labels vs Stickers – The Great Debate

  1. Peter Renton

    While this is true that sticker is used generally in a more informal way, some people even in business to business say stickers not labels. It is an interesting question, and there appears to be no hard and fast rules for the different uses stickers vs labels.

  2. Eric

    I just have more of an argument for this but, at my work, (i work at a screw and nail warehouse), we sell screws in 1 and 5 pound plastic jars. Well, we are having a debate on this very subject. We sell screws that we call what are ACQ compatible. They are small lables(stickers), but we are arguing if they are lables or stickers. just a friendly debate. and according to your site i was right, they are lables. We use them to let people know that those screws can be used with a type of wood. So would that be considered a lable? we also put another lable on the same jar letting people know what type of screw it is and what length it is. But we can’t seem to all agree if the ACQ label is a sticker or a label. This site will help me out in my argument. Thank you :D

  3. Stuart

    For some reason I had always associated the difference between labels and stickers having something to do with whether or not the attachment was intended to be permanent or transient… i.e. required to stick permanently (like an address label onto an envelope) or could be unpeeled (or unstuck like the type which are placed on personal effects during an office move). Clearly I was not thinking the matter through at all. Ah well… there goes another bit of assured knowledge straight into the dustbin. The labels attached to wartime refugee children, for some reason I always thought of as name tags…………but I suppose in the great scheme of things, they are all much of a muchness and whatever they are called is not particularly earth shattering.

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