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Is there a German word for soft drinks, i.e. the group of non-alcoholic, carbonated, sweet drinks?

It should cover Cola, Fanta and Sprite, but not mineral water, squash or beer.

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up vote 14 down vote accepted

For the whole german language area Softdrink is an established loanword, Limonade is the longer established word, although its based on the itialian limonata (lemon water) and can be originated to the persian laimun meaning lemon. Limonade lets you expect natural integrients, but this differs for regions and for types (nobody would expect natural sprite, but Orangenlimonade should be made with real oranges contrary to Fanta). As far as I know Coke is included in Softdrinks, can be meant with Brause but won't be meant with Limonade. The most usual expression for Coke is simply Cola or the respective trademark (Coca-Cola, Pepsi (Cola), Afri-Cola, ...)

Especially in Germany, particularly northern and eastern Germany the term Brause is a common word. Brause is used to describe artificially made integrients. In eastern germany however its synonymous with Limonade.

Alternatively there is Schorle used at least in the Ruhr area down to Baden-Württemberg. Schorle is usually used to describe a juice mixed with sparkling water. It's also used for alcoholic drinks like Weinschorle, but then the alcohol is included in the name.

In Bavaria and Austria (except Vorarlberg) the word Kracherl is used. But in the area of Upper Austria, Salzburg and Styria it became less used in the last ten years but should be understood good.

In Southern Tyrolean none of these words are used, instead they use the italian aranciata. Limonade may be used, but only for lemon water. Thanks @splattne for pointing this out in the comments.

After being reminded by takkat: Sprudel is a word usually used in Germany for sparkling water, but in Baden-Württemberg for Limonade. Beware of extra hints like süßer Sprudel or Sprudel gelb/weiß. For Vorarlberg/Baden-Württemberg (alemannic region) I don't know an other word than Softdrink.

Although Limonade has a highly spread it doesn't allow for usage everywhere. So the answer to your question is No, there isn't a single word. Regardless I'd always try to start with Limonade or the tradmarks Cola, Fanta, Sprite, thats what gives the best chances.

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In Baden-Württemberg the term [süsser] Sprudel [weiß/gelb] or Schorle is used rather than Softdrink. – Takkat Jun 2 '11 at 16:29
Thanks for reminding me. Heard both of them. Schorle also in the Ruhrgebiet, but didn't remember. – Samuel Herzog Jun 2 '11 at 16:43
"Baden-Württemberg", not "Badem" (cannot edit for just one character) And Schorle... I didn't know they use that in the Ruhrgebiet too, I thought (and still suspect) it's a more southern term. – Jürgen A. Erhard Jun 2 '11 at 19:16
I heard it in Cologne and more into the Ruhrgebiet too. So if nobody else objects. Thx 4 proof reading. – Samuel Herzog Jun 2 '11 at 19:27
The correct Italian word for lemonade is limonata, not lemonata. – splattne Jun 2 '11 at 19:49

I don't know how exact the word is, but the term Brause is typically used for this. It's another (older) word for Limonade (also used often), and e.g. when talking to children one often refers to Sprite and Fanta als weiße resp. gelbe Brause.

Brause may be colloquial though and is not exactly the same as Limonade, but is actually part of the food law as a Verkehrsbezeichnung, i.e. an official name for a kind of drink. Colloquially, Limonade is often shortened to Limo (pronounced Limmo).

Thanks to Pekka and bernd_k for pointing these out.

In everyday life, there will not be much difference between these terms. Technically, however, Brause may also include artificial flavors and colors, while Limonade may not.

There is also the term Erfrischungsgetränk, though that is not necessarily excluding non-sweet drinks and not necessarily carbonated.

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So Cola is also Limonade, even though it doesn't taste of citrus? – Tim Jun 2 '11 at 13:27
I think in today's use of the word, yes. Fanta also doesn't taste like orange. Now that you say it, I think there's another word which I'm adding to my answer. Wikipedia says: "Zu den Limonaden gehören auch die coffeinhaltigen Colagetränke und die meisten Energy-Drinks." – OregonGhost Jun 2 '11 at 13:28
+1. Brause is not only colloquial though, it is a part of food law and is the closest match: in daily life, Limonade may be the best choice - it is usually understood that Coca-Cola and the likes are included. – Pekka 웃 Jun 2 '11 at 13:33
In spoken speech Limonade is often shortend to Limmo . – bernd_k Jun 2 '11 at 13:33
@Tim: Yes, Limonade does not at all include being citrus based - it could be any fruit (for example, cherry and woodruff are common). – Paŭlo Ebermann Jun 3 '11 at 0:02

In addition to the excellent answers, in many restaurants' menus, you'll find these drinks under Alkoholfreie Getränke (non-alcoholic beverages), often together with water, but separate from juices and hot drinks.

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I'll add an Austrian/Bavarian expression for completness:


A Kracherl (áá Limo oda Limonad) is a sias Dringa, des aus Wåssa, Zucka, Gschmå und Koinsaire gmacht werd.

Caution: Link points to the Bavarian Wikipedia domain.

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Mir fallen die Begriffe Softgetränk oder Softdrink sowie Erfrischungsgetränk ein. Dazu zählen streng genommen aber auch Getränke, die nicht unbedingt süß oder kohlensäurehaltig sind.

Ein Online-Hotel-Lexikon hat folgende Beschreibung für das Wort:

Ein Softdrink ist ein alkoholfreies Getränk. Auch die Mischungen aus alkoholfreien Getränken werden als solche bezeichnet.

Softdrinks werden in folgende Gruppen unterteilt:

  • Wasser
  • Fruchtsäfte, Fruchtnektare
  • Gemüsesäfte, Gemüsenektare
  • Erfrischungsgetränke
  • Fruchtsaftgetränke
  • Limonaden
  • Brausen
  • Mineralstoffgetränke (z.B. isotonische Getränke)
  • Diät- Erfrischungsgetränke
  • Brennwertverminderte (light) Erfrischungsgetränke
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Soft heißt aber einfach nur kein Alkohol, oder? Das ist dann schon ein sehr weit darüber liegender Sammelbegriff. – OregonGhost Jun 2 '11 at 13:43
@OregonGhost Ja, das stimmt. Vielleicht hatte ich das so im Kopf, weil die meisten Erfrischungsgetränke/Softdrinks süß und kohlensäurehaltig sind... – splattne Jun 2 '11 at 13:47
Ich hätte so aus dem Kopf auch nicht Gemüsesäfte erwartet, obwohl's natürlich irgendwie Sinn ergibt :) – OregonGhost Jun 2 '11 at 13:53
Das nächste Mal beim Bestellen: "Haben Sie Softdrinks?" - "Ja" - "Dann bitte einen mit Wasser aufgespritzten brennwertverminderten Diät-Gemüsenektar" – splattne Jun 2 '11 at 13:56

to give a short answer, German differentiates between alcoholic (alkoholische Getränke) and non-alcoholic Drinks (alkoholische Getränke). Non-alcoholic drinks are further categorized in cold (Erfrischungsgetränke/Kaltgetränke) and hot drinks (Heißgetränke).

Carbonated drinks with flavor are generally called "Limonade". You may accentuate the flavor by adding its noun to the name, like "Zitronenlimonade" or "Orangenlimonade". You may also prefer a more formal way to name your drink, like "Kohlensäurehaltiges Erfrischungsgetränk" (as big-players do: It depends heavily on what you're willing to say.

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