The title is pretty self explanatory.
"Soda", "Pop", "Coke", etc. all refer to the same thing in different parts of the world.

Where the word for soft drink is "soda", "pop" is a verb, and "Coke" is only a brand.

But what does "soda" mean in places where the beverage is called "pop" (or something else)?
Does it have any meaning at all?


3 Answers 3


Soda is another name for plain carbonated water even in countries where soda is the generic term for Coke etc. However, it is usually called club soda in those countries to differentiate it.

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    And, depending on the context, it may also refer to things like washing soda (where, of all of the substances that have tradionally been referred to as [something] soda — whether that compound contains sodium or not — it's obvious that you mean only one of them).
    – bye
    Jul 7, 2014 at 11:08
  • I'll wait a bit before accepting since only a few minutes have passed, but your answer is good so if there aren't any more and I forget, feel free to ping me and I'll accept yours. :) Thanks!
    – user541686
    Jul 7, 2014 at 11:17
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    The term club soda was unknown to me until I visited the US. The term I know for carbonated water is soda water. Soda on its own has several meanings, as bye says, but in context I would understand it to mean fizzy drinks.
    – Colin Fine
    Jul 7, 2014 at 11:48

In the technical sense soda can also refer to sodium (bi)carbonate, and products derived from sodium compounds such as baking soda, caustic soda, etc. Incidentally, I believe this is where the usage of soda for a soft fizzy drink comes from, as sodium bicarbonate is used in the carbonation process to make fizzy drinks.

I would say that taken just on its own, "soda", would still be recognised as a term for a fizzy drink such as Coke, even if was not the locally used term. Though in many areas it is frequently used to mean soda water (when used as a mixer), e.g. a Lime and Soda.

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    In the UK and Canada, soda water now has sodium bicarbonate as a flavouring, as a distinction from plain carbonated water. Hence a Whisky & soda
    – Henry
    Jul 7, 2014 at 11:12
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    +1 for some reason I didn't realize the connection between baking soda and drinking soda until you mentioned it, cool!
    – user541686
    Jul 7, 2014 at 11:18
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    Soda water would traditionally from a syphon.
    – Henry
    Jul 7, 2014 at 11:19
  • As someone who grew up in Britain watching Kenan & Kel as a kid, I always associate soda with sweet fizzy drinks. cf. "Who loves orange soda?" - "Kel loves orange soda!" Despite it not being a native meaning in the UK.
    – decvalts
    Jul 7, 2014 at 11:33
  • Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate; caustic soda is sodium hydroxide. Different stuff--do NOT take the latter in a glass of water for a stomach upset. Jul 7, 2014 at 13:10

When you're wondering about what a word means, the tool of choice is a dictionary. For example, according to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition:


n. Any of various forms of sodium carbonate.

n. Chemically combined sodium.

n. See carbonated water.

n. Chiefly Northeastern U.S., Eastern Missouri, & Southwestern Illinois See soft drink. See Regional Note at tonic.

n. A refreshment made from carbonated water, ice cream, and usually a flavoring.

n. Games The card turned face up at the beginning of faro.

  • The dictionary only tells me the meanings it could have, not which meanings actually dominate the usage in the general population.
    – user541686
    Jul 7, 2014 at 11:15
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    @Mehrdad in which general population? Which country? Which dialect? Which age group? Which period? In any case, looking at a dictionary would have shown you the alternate meanings of thew word so when soda does not mean club soda the rest of its meanings stand. Which one is more common depends on the group of people you are talking about.
    – terdon
    Jul 7, 2014 at 11:18
  • That could be in an answer of its own. I kind of expected a common definition irrespective of the region (aside from soft drink), so if there really isn't a single common secondary meaning then that's good information to put in an answer, and not something I'd find by looking at a dictionary.
    – user541686
    Jul 7, 2014 at 11:23
  • @Mehrdad if you read the dictionary definitions I've pasted above, you'll see that the meaning of soda to mean soft drink is actually regional and mostly confined to Northeastern U.S., Eastern Missouri, & Southwestern Illinois. Dictionaries do contain that type of information. The common definition is "Any of various forms of sodium carbonate." which is why it is first in the dictionary entry. The secondary meaning is the one you consider primary.
    – terdon
    Jul 7, 2014 at 11:25

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