Meaning of “so-called” in the English Dictionary

american-english dictionary

"so-called" in British English

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so-calledadjective [ before noun ]

uk /ˌsəʊˈkɔːld/ us /ˌsoʊˈkɑːld/

B2 used to show that you think a word that is used to describe someone or something is not suitable or not correct:

It was one of his so-called friends who supplied him with the drugs that killed him.

B2 used to introduce a new word or phrase that is not yet known by many people:

It isn't yet clear how dangerous these so-called "super-rats" are.

More examples

  • It's fairly shocking when a so-called developed country can't even provide homes for all its citizens.
  • My so-called friend has stolen my girlfriend.
  • This so-called charity has robbed thousands of poor people of their money.
  • And this is one of the so-called privileges of working for this company.
  • This so-called therapy has effectively ruined my life.

(Definition of “so-called” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"so-called" in American English

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so-calledadjective [ not gradable ]

us /ˈsoʊˈkɔld/

named or called in a particular way:

Married taxpayers are hit hard by the so-called marriage penalty.

People or things that are so-called may not fit their name:

These so-called experts don’t know anything.

(Definition of “so-called” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)