- a slip of paper, cloth, or other material, marked or inscribed, for attachment to something to indicate its manufacturer, nature, ownership, destination, etc.
- a short word or phrase descriptive of a person, group, intellectual movement, etc.
- a word or phrase indicating that what follows belongs in a particular category or classification: The following definition has the label “Archit.”
- Architecture. a molding or dripstone over a door or window, especially one that extends horizontally across the top of the opening and vertically downward for a certain distance at the sides.
- a brand or trademark, especially of a manufacturer of phonograph records, tape cassettes, etc.: She records under a new label.
- the manufacturer using such a label: a major label that has produced some of the best recordings of the year.
- Heraldry. a narrow horizontal strip with a number of downward extensions of rectangular or dovetail form, usually placed in chief as the cadency mark of an eldest son.
- Obsolete. a strip or narrow piece of anything.
verb (used with object), la·beled, la·bel·ing or (especially British) la·belled, la·bel·ling.
- to affix a label to; mark with a label.
- to designate or describe by or on a label: The bottle was labeled poison.
- to put in a certain class; classify.
- Also radiolabel. Chemistry. to incorporate a radioactive or heavy isotope into (a molecule) in order to make traceable.
- a piece of paper, card, or other material attached to an object to identify it or give instructions or details concerning its ownership, use, nature, destination, etc; tag
- a brief descriptive phrase or term given to a person, group, school of thought, etcthe label “Romantic” is applied to many different kinds of poetry
- a word or phrase heading a piece of text to indicate or summarize its contents
- a trademark or company or brand name on certain goods, esp, formerly, on gramophone records
- another name for dripstone (def. 2)
- heraldry a charge consisting of a horizontal line across the chief of a shield with three or more pendants: the charge of an eldest son
- computing a group of characters, such as a number or a word, appended to a particular statement in a program to allow its unique identification
- chem a radioactive element used in a compound to trace the mechanism of a chemical reaction
verb -bels, -belling or -belled or US -bels, -beling or -beled (tr)
- to fasten a label to
- to mark with a label
- to describe or classify in a word or phraseto label someone a liar
- to make (one or more atoms in a compound) radioactive, for use in determining the mechanism of a reaction
c.1300, “narrow band or strip of cloth” (oldest use is as a technical term in heraldry), from Old French label, lambel “ribbon, fringe worn on clothes” (13c., Modern French lambeau “strip, rag, shred, tatter”), possibly from Frankish *labba or some other Germanic source (cf. Old High German lappa “flap”), from Proto-Germanic *lapp- (see lap (n.)).
Later “dangling strip of cloth or ribbon used as an ornament in dress,” “strip attached to a document to hold a seal” (both early 15c.), and with a general meaning “tag, sticker, slip of paper” (1670s). Meaning “circular piece of paper in the center of a gramophone record” (1907), containing information about the recorded music, led to meaning “a recording company” (1947).
“to affix a label to,” c.1600, see label (n.); figurative sense of “to categorize” is from 1853. Related: Labeled; labeling; labelled; labelling.
- See tracer.