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I am inclined to call these labels as they are stuck onto something, e.g. an exercise book, a small medicine bottle or box and then you can write the child's name or the dosage on the label.

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    I'm not American, but I would say they can be either - labels because they're for writing information on, stickers because they stick on. Commented Jun 15 at 7:57
  • Thank you very much.
    – S635
    Commented Jun 15 at 8:47
  • So it doesn't matter which word I go with?
    – S635
    Commented Jun 15 at 8:48
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    "So it doesn't matter which word I go with?" It does, I think, as a native AmE speaker. "Stickers" always(?) connotes preprinted, while "labels" has no such connotation: there are blank labels and pre-printed labels.
    – RonJohn
    Commented Jun 16 at 8:18
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    Don't confuse what you do with it with its function. You use stickers to label things. Labels also have other uses (He was labeled a criminal). We say the boxes were not labeled. sticker is not a verb. Label can be.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jun 16 at 23:38

2 Answers 2

22

They look like they are both. Some call them sticky labels.

A sticker doesn't have to be a label. A label doesn't have to be a sticker. The terms are not mutually exclusive.

A sticker is a piece of material, usually paper, that is applied to something with adhesive that is pre-applied to the back. My kids come home from school with stickers that say things like "great work!". You can buy kids books of stickers with cartoon characters etc.

A label is anything that attaches to something and provides information about it, such as an address label on a package, or a brand label on an item of clothing. It could be in the form of a tag attached by some kind of looped thread, a piece of printed material sewn onto an item of clothing, or it could be a sticker like this.

So what you have are both labels, because you can write information on them, and stickers, because they have adhesive on the back ready to stick onto something.

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    Rather than "sticky labels", I would expect the package to call them "adhesive labels". (At least in American English.) In a formal context, I would normally use "adhesive" for something that's meant to be stuck to things, and "sticky" for something that gets stuck to things whether you want it to or not (like chewing gum). Although a small adhesive paper square (i.e. a Post-It) is a "sticky note", so it's not a perfect division. Commented Jun 15 at 18:14
  • @GlennWillen adhesive is technically correct but we say in everyday parlance: stick-on labels. Don't you mean: can be mutually exclusive?
    – Lambie
    Commented Jun 16 at 23:39
  • @GlennWillen is 10000% correct because I was about to type the same thing. You'd never say "sticky labels" because "sticky" and "stickies" and "sticky notes" are very distinctive product categories.
    – Fattie
    Commented Jun 17 at 17:35
  • PS @GlennWillen your final sentence is quite wrong; post it notes aks sticky notes exactly make the point you are making - they're temporary, half-assed, "adhesion related things" - they are indeed not actually Real Adhere To Something, they're just chewing-gum like sticky nuisances.
    – Fattie
    Commented Jun 17 at 17:36
11

Both technically apply, but "label" is better. A "sticker" is generally decorative rather than informative, and its adhesive is generally weaker than that of an adhesive label and intended to be removable.

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    I agree about stickers generally referring to something slightly decorative, but 100% disagree about stickiness.
    – MikeB
    Commented Jun 17 at 8:13
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    Quite the contrary (as I discovered while moving), the stickers my kids randomly applied to various doors and walls were virtually unremovable without significant effort.
    – chepner
    Commented Jun 17 at 13:43

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