Actually, in English to Korean dictionary, both of "called" and "so-called" have the same meaning.

In many examples of the dictionary, "so-called" is used as adjective rather than past-particle, i.e., it is placed before the noun.

On the other hand, "called" is used as past particle many times.

However, recently I've frequently observed that the word "so-called" is used as past-particle like "called".

What is exact difference between called and so-called? (Not only meaning but also usage)

The following two sentences are the example I made:

Networks that consist of multiple mobile nodes are promising technology, so-called mobile ad hoc networks (MANETs).

Networks that consist of multiple mobile nodes are promising technology, called mobile ad hoc networks (MANETs).

  • Please consult dictionaries to answer questions like this. (btw Study, as a verb, does not take a preposition. )
    – David
    Jan 31, 2018 at 13:39

2 Answers 2


The difference is slight. Often, but not always, so-called is carries an air of disapproval, suggesting the name is in some way clumsy, inept or inappropriate.

Personally, I don’t detect such a tone in your example. Another way of signalling disapproval is the use of single inverted commas, sometimes called ‘scare’ quotes, because they say to the reader, “be careful, I am not committed to the bit between single quotes in any literal way”. This use of single quotes has also been called sneer quotes, for obvious reasons. But in my experience, there are no hard and fast rules about this.

I myself should prefer called to so-called in the context you have given. I doubt if the author meant to hint at disapproval of the acronym for a programming feature.


"Called" is a definition. Think of it like an equals sign.

"So-called" generally implies there's something not quite equal (e.g., "so-called leader" for someone in charge but doesn't actually lead). It can also be a common name that isn't its official name.

  • A mistake sometimes made is to use both 'so-called' and scare quotes, e.g. a so-called "expert". That is redundant because both the 'so-called' and the double quote marks imply they are not really an expert. Jan 29, 2018 at 11:03

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