Thirty-six three-, four- and five-year-olds were asked to select labels for deceptive stimuli (e.g. for an eraser that looked like a pencil). Three types of labelling were investigated –simple (e.g. ‘is an eraser’); appearance-predicated (e.g. ‘looks like an eraser’); and reality-predicated (e.g. ‘is really and truly an eraser’). An age-related appearance-reality shift was observed in simple labelling (e.g. older children were more likely than younger ones to accept eraser and reject pencil as simple names for the pencil-eraser). This trend was robust over method and semantic domain, though weaker with object than with colour labels. As in previous research, older children were more likely than younger ones to map different appearance- than reality-predicated labels onto an item (e.g. to accept that the pencil-eraser looks like a pencil, but is really and truly an eraser); however, all age groups were reluctant to extend more than one name to a stimulus via a common predicate (e.g. to accept two reality-predicated labels for the same object). This one-label-per-predicate pattern was observed more frequently within reality than within appearance predicates; more frequently with colour than with object names, and with questions blocked by predicate than by name. It is argued that younger children maintained this pattern because of inflexible encoding, but that older ones did so because of better understanding of the appearance-reality distinction, greater reality dominance, and a Mutual Exclusivity bias.