Lemonade is a fizzy drink, strongly carbonated. It comes in two varieties, white (which is actually colourless) and red. I have never known anyone to make it at home.

Various things I've picked up in reading suggest that all three of the above sentences are untrue in American English, and the second sentence is untrue anywhere outside of Ireland.

  • I think it's one of those things where the definition has changed over time as well as geography - when I was a kid (in Britain) 'lemonade' meant the clear, carbonated stuff or the Irish red variety. But I now live in Ireland and my kids now tend to think of the clear stuff as either 7-Up or Sprite and 'lemonade' as being much closer to the 'American' definition - made at home from lemons and sugar.
    – tinyd
    Sep 6, 2011 at 9:33
  • 3
    I am curious about the red lemonade. Is this like (american) mint ice cream being green, even though the green is a food-colorant (mint extract is clear)?
    – horatio
    Sep 6, 2011 at 16:32
  • 5
    Kids running lemonaide stands in the US must really blow UK minds then...
    – T.E.D.
    Sep 6, 2011 at 20:39
  • I had a real job trying to buy cordial (as in 'Vimto', 'Rose's Lime Juice' in the UK) in the States - nobody understood that sense of the word. Jan 21, 2013 at 17:58
  • I don't think lemonade is carbonated? Even Mike's hard isn't.
    – thang
    Jan 21, 2013 at 18:00

7 Answers 7


Lemonade is not necessarily carbonated in Ireland. You can get the nice stuff here too. It's also not like we don't know how to mix lemon juice and sugar-water (protip: add one lime's juice and a sprig of mint), and haven't been doing so for centuries.

Conversely, the Americans have the fizzy stuff too.

Pink lemonade (both fizzy and non-fizzy) is found all over the world too. The brand I've seen most often in Ireland is French.

I agree that the deep red stuff seems to be much more common in Ireland than anywhere else, though its rarer here than it used to be. I haven't seen the brown variety in a long time, though I think C&C might still make it. I understand they were originally developed to be used as mixers with red ale (for a shandy) and whiskey respectively, so it may have been changes in tastes for alcoholic drinks that led to brown lemonade being rarer now.

In all, the word covers the fizzy and non-fizzy varieties of various different colours all over the world, but differences in preferences for the drink itself affect what will first come to mind when you hear it spoken.


In the U.S., lemonade is a drink made from lemons, sugar, and water. No carbonation.


Pink lemonade is lemonade with red grape juice or grenadine mixed in:

Pink lemonade


Macmillan Dictionary still says lemonade is 'a drink made from lemons, sugar, and water, or a glass of this drink'.

  • And it is available in pink - once made by adding strawberries to it (yum!) but now primarily by food colouring it seems. Sep 6, 2011 at 0:03
  • I notice that the labels on that dictionary definition are odd. It doesn't mark the US definition, implying it's the default. I'd bet that world English is closer to what is there marked as the British definition.
    – TRiG
    Sep 6, 2011 at 0:06
  • I thought pink lemonade was traditionally made by adding grenadine, although strawberries do sound delicious. Sep 6, 2011 at 2:15

In American English the term


refers to the drink made with lemon juice (fresh squeezed preferred), flat water and lots of sugar, no alcohol at all, and no carbonation. If it is colored pink (with some red juice or coloring), you'd call it 'pink lemonade', which is not uncommon. A lemonade drink colored to the point of being red is unknown.

In AmE, if you have a lemon drink that is carbonated, you wouldn't have a word for it, except maybe by borrowing like the foreign brands 'Limonata'. If any carbonation is involved, the word lemonade would not be either.

A lemon flavored drink made with alcohol (and possibly carbonated water) is known as

hard lemonade

based on the the term to differentiate alcoholic from non-alcoholic apple drink, 'hard cider' and 'apple cider' (the latter being non-alcoholic in general AmE).

  • 5
    If someone told me they were going to have some citronella I'd think they were about to drink one of those insect-repelling candles or lamps. I'll have to make note of the term though; we often have speech obfuscation games at the parties I attend. :P
    – tdhsmith
    Sep 6, 2011 at 1:47
  • @lettuce: gah...yes, that's right. I'll remove it.
    – Mitch
    Sep 6, 2011 at 2:52
  • Oh was it a mistake? I wasn't challenging you; just noting my unfamiliarity. :)
    – tdhsmith
    Sep 6, 2011 at 3:08
  • @lettuce: well not -exactly- a mistake just under-researched. First, yes, citronella is the lemony insect repellent. From a superficial google search, there -is- some lemon drink associated with the name 'citronella' but to really pin it down, I'd have to spend actual time figuring it out.
    – Mitch
    Sep 6, 2011 at 3:25
  • 1
    Citronella in Italy is an alcohol based beverage. You don't normally find it on sale, it's more of a homemade liqueur. It's an infusion of the herb, "citronella", in a solution of alcohol, water and sugar. Not as nice as chilled limoncello but refreshing enough.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jan 9, 2014 at 19:55

Notice the OED definition:

A drink made of lemon-juice and water, sweetened with sugar.

then, in smaller type

In England now very commonly applied to ‘aerated lemonade’, which consists of water impregnated with carbonic acid with the addition of lemon-juice and sugar.


I was born and raised in Holland and grew up drinking a mix of water and a syrup resembling grenadine (though not necessarily red and available in a wide assortment of different fruit flavors). This mix was termed "limoenade", which interestingly enough would translate to "limeade" in English because "limoen" means "lime" while "citroen" means "lemon". I have family in the US and when I was young, I would visit them during the summer. My uncle once told me he was going to make me some lemonade, only to hand me a glass of the sour American version. I thought it was some sort of sick joke at the time.

Here is a link to a picture of a popular Dutch "limoenade" syrup brand and some of the different flavors they offer.

  • 1
    Then what do you call citrons? Seems you've run out of words. :)
    – tchrist
    Jan 21, 2013 at 19:44

Lemonade in American is invariably something more like you would call lemon squash. It contains fresh squeezed lemons, sugar, and water, and nothing else at all. It's the ultimate WYSIWYG drink.

If there is carbonation it it, it is not lemonade. It is merely lemon pop, and not at all as interesting as the real thing. It probably has white grape juice and a million unpronounceable ingredients in it, too. That is not lemondate from our standpoint.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.