I've never really given this much thought, but my inclination recently has been to omit the "as" whenever I'm referring to something being labeled. Is it ever necessary to include it? When must I use either phrase?

For example, in this instance, which is correct?

She has been labeled subprime for being ostensibly untrustworthy.


She has been labeled as subprime for being ostensibly untrustworthy.

(In both sentences I am referring to her credit score.)

  • She or the mortgage??
    – Lambie
    Commented Dec 18, 2023 at 22:35
  • She is -- more specifically, she's considered a "subprime borrower." The piece I'm working on details how difficult it is for people with bad credit scores to restore their credit because it's nearly impossible for them to acquire loans after they've reached subprime status.
    – Riley
    Commented Dec 18, 2023 at 22:41
  • Ok, borrower. The thing is that subprime is the loan, not the person who is borrowing the funds. "subprime loans". The person would be labeled a credit risk for the bank or lending institution.
    – Lambie
    Commented Dec 18, 2023 at 22:42
  • I get what you're saying, but the writer's phrasing is meant to poke fun at the industry and how dehumanizing it can be. I more so just need to understand when it is necessary to use "labeled" vs. "labeled as" -- unless it's always a stylistic choice. Thank you for your response.
    – Riley
    Commented Dec 18, 2023 at 22:51
  • 1
    Google suggests both are possible, but "as" is more common and sometimes more readable. If you prefer to omit it for stylistic reasons, that's your choice.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Dec 19, 2023 at 15:25

2 Answers 2


If one says that X has been labelled Y, without as, one is simply reporting the fact that somebody has done so, without implying anything as to whether the label is proper, correct, apt, or the only possible one (as opposed to being one among other possible labels for X). Using the formulation without as does not imply, or even suggest, anything about such matters, either way.

Saying that X has been labelled as Y, on the other hand, encourages the audience to bear in mind that this is only one possible way of labelling X, that it may not be the best, and that it may turn out to be incorrect. The formulation does not say that the label is wrong, but it invites the audience to consider that it might be, in the way in which the formulation without as does not.

  • This is an interesting perspective. Thank you for sharing!
    – Riley
    Commented Dec 27, 2023 at 16:42

to label something or someone a or the something
to label something or someone as something

to label someone something is doable if followed by a pronoun and an adjective.

He was labeled a or as Soviet spy. The other women labeled her fussy.

However, I cannot agree with the OP's "labeled her subprime" (which is a pronoun and adjective, yes) as that is factually wrong. Loans are subprime, not people.

Both are doable.

Reference: myself. :)

  • The question is asking about the possibility of "to label something something"
    – Henry
    Commented Dec 19, 2023 at 2:49
  • @Henry I have adjusted my answer now.
    – Lambie
    Commented Dec 19, 2023 at 16:22
  • The dv's here are wrong.
    – Lambie
    Commented Dec 23, 2023 at 18:35
  • Lambie, I appreciate your answer, but again, there is no defamation going on here. The writer is purposefully pointing out the fact that it is wrong to label people subprime. And yes, there are people being labeled as such, however inadvertently -- they are called "subprime borrowers."
    – Riley
    Commented Dec 27, 2023 at 16:38
  • 1
    @Riley Yes, but regardless of that, my answer is correct about labeled a/an X or labeled as a/an x or labeled [null set] in some cases. I see no difference in meaning.
    – Lambie
    Commented Dec 27, 2023 at 16:41

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