Spelling Tips: Label or Lable?
  • 3-minute read
  • 4th March 2021

Spelling Tips: Label or Lable?

When you put a name tag on something, do you ‘label’ it or ‘lable’ it? It is easy to misspell this word, so make sure you know how to spell it correctly in your writing.

What Does ‘Label’ Mean?

The word ‘label’ is usually a noun that refers to a tag that identifies or describes something. This could be a physical label with information on it:

The label says the yoghurt is low fat.

That dress is dry clean only according to the label.

Or it could be a word or phrase that characterises something:

He couldn’t shake off his ‘playboy’ label.

It can also refer to a brand in the fashion and music industries.

As a verb, meanwhile, ‘label’ means ‘attach a label’ to something:

I need to label those boxes.

They were labelled as troublemakers.

However you use the word, though, it is always spelled ‘label’.

The Error: Lable

Many people misspell ‘label’ as ‘lable’, but this is always an error:

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There is no lable on this package.

There is no label on this package.

I haven’t labled any presents yet.

I haven’t labelled any presents yet.

This mistake may occur because ‘label’ rhymes with words that end with ‘-le’ like ‘table’, ‘stable’, and ‘cable’. However, the correct spelling is always ‘label’.

Labelled or Labeled?

In Australian English, the past tense of ‘label’ is ‘labelled’, spelled with a double ‘l’. This is because Australian English, like British English, often doubles the final ‘l’ in words when adding a vowel suffix (e.g. traveltravelled, cancelcancelled).

However, in American English they only double the final ‘l’ in a word like this when the last syllable is stressed (i.e. the standard doubling up rule). And since this does not apply to ‘label’, the past tense forms are spelled ‘labeled’:

Australian English: The parcels have all been labelled.

American English: The parcels have all been labeled.

The same applies whenever you add a vowel suffix to ‘label’. For example:

Australian English: We are labelling the parcels.

American English: We are labeling the parcels.

Make sure to use the correct spelling for your chosen dialect!

Summary: Label or Lable?

‘Label’ can be a noun or a verb, but it always refers to some sort of identifying tag (or the act of tagging someone with a ‘label’). And while it rhymes with words like ‘table’ and ‘cable’, this term is always spelled ‘label’ with an ‘-el’ at the end.

‘Lable’, on the other hand, is always an error, so look out for this in your writing. And if you’d like to be sure your work is error free, our proofreaders can help. Submit a 500-word document for free to find out more today.

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