In the United States, "soft drink" commonly refers to cold, non-alcoholic beverages. Carbonated beverages are regionally known as "pop" in the Midwest and the Pacific Northwest. In the Northeast, parts of the South (near Florida) and Midwest (near St. Louis and eastern Wisconsin), and California, they are known as "soda". In much of the South, they are generically called "coke". (Atlanta, Georgia is home to the Coca-Cola Company.) Internally, the Coca-Cola Company (and probably other such corporations) uses the term "non-alcoholic carbonated beverage".
In some other areas these drinks are called "soda pop", while in and around Boston, Massachusetts, they are often called "tonic", particularly among older generations. In North Carolina, the terms "drink" and "soft drink" are commonly used along with "soda" and "coke" to refer to non-alcoholic cold drinks. Some older generations of Southerners refer to such drinks as "dope". See The Great Pop vs. Soda Controversy for maps and geographical trends.
At many restaurants in the U.S., one finds that the products of only a single major beverage producer, such as The Coca-Cola Company or PepsiCo, are available. While a patron who requests a “coke” may be truly indifferent as to which cola brand he receives, the careful order taker will confirm intent with a question like “Is Pepsi OK?” Similarly, “7 Up” or “Sprite” may indicate whichever clear, carbonated, citrus-flavored drink happens to be at hand. The generic uses of these brand names does not affect the local usage of the words "pop" or "soda", to mean any carbonated beverage.
Names in other countries and languages
In Australia and New Zealand, "soft drink" almost always refers to carbonated beverages. In some parts of Australia the term "lolly water" is synonymous with "soft drink", but it now increasingly refers to bright-coloured alcoholic drinks which some claim are marketed at youth ("lolly water" is also rarely used in reference to wine variants). "Lemonade" can refer to "lemon drink" or "lemon squash", but it is typically used only to refer to translucent or citrus-flavoured beverages (for example, Sprite, 7-Up, etc). The term "coke" is used not only for the Coca-cola beverage, but commonly for other brands of cola, although not universally.
In Brazil, soft drinks are called 'refrigerante', or sometimes just as 'refri'. Although there is the term soda, it just refers specifically to lemon lime soft drinks. Not for Coke or Pepsi, for instance.
In Canada, "pop" is the most commonly used term among English speakers to refer to a carbonated soft drink. "Soda" is almost never used. In French, a "soft drink" is referred to by its literal translation, "boisson douce". "Boisson gazeuse", "liqueur douce", and "liqueur" are also used by French Canadians. The use of "liqueur" in this fashion is distinctly Canadian French; in France, "liqueur" refers to a very specific set of aperitive and digestive alcoholic drinks.
In China, soft drinks are often called "gas/air water" (汽水) or simply "drinks" (Simp.Chinese:饮料 Trad.Chinese:飲料). The first one refers to carbonated drinks only while the latter refers to any drink (though often it refers to soft drink). It is far more common to say the actual name of the drink (eg. Coke, Bottled Tea etc.) than saying generic terms above.