On EL&U, this question came up and there a few different views to the matter. One of the current mods wrote:
On a side note, please do NOT use the “code” format to make words stand out for any reason. Use italics or “quotation marks” for the use–mention distinction and bold for words that you want to make stand out for other reasons.
In addition, as this other post said:
Even if the term "Code Sample" is not exactly "right" for this domain (English Language and Usage), it allows for the tag...Text in a pre element is displayed in a fixed-width font (usually Courier), and it preserves both spaces and line breaks.
It can be useful, for instance, when you are quoting poems which may use special indentations, using several spaces. In the simple HTML this editor allows, "several spaces" are not easily done. Except in preformatted text.
In terms of personal preference, code formatting to highlight words seems a bit out of place, but when it comes to longer text blocks which need specific formatting then code formatting works well.