In at least some parts of the Southern U.S., any soft drink, regardless of actual brand. Typical exchange in a restaurant:

Server: And what would you like to drink?
Customer: I'll have a Coke.
Server: What kind?
Customer: Um, Sun Drop

In areas where this is customary, ordering a soft drink will usually work; however, asking for a "pop" is likely to score a puzzled look.
Coke is the infusible, solid residue remaining after the distillation of certain bituminous coals, or as a by-product of petroleum distillation. Coke may also be obtained from petroleum residue, pitch, and other materials representing the residue of destructive distillation. Coke will ignite more quickly than anthracite, but less readily than bituminous. It burns rapidly with little draft. As a result, all openings or leaks into the ash pit must be closed tightly when the coke is being burned.

Since less coke is burned per hour per square foot of grate than coal, a larger grate is required and a deep fire-pot is necessary to accommodate the thick bed of coal. Since coke contains very little hydrogen, the quick flaming combustion, which characterizes coal, is not produced, but the fire is nearer even and regular. The best size of coke recommended for general use, for small fire-pots where the full depth is not over 20 inches is that which passes over a one-inch screen and through a one and a half inch screen. For large fire-pots where the fuel can be fired over 20 inches deep, coke which passes over a one inch screen and through a three inch screen can be used, but a coke of uniform size is always more satisfactory.

The reason why Coke is short for Coca-Cola, which has no "k"

Well, basically, it comes from French. There are many things one might say about the language. One of them is this: it has very regular pronunciation rules. And one of these pronunciation rules is as follows:

  • If you have the letter "c" somewhere in a word, and it doesn't have a cedilla on it (ç):
  • If the c is followed by A, E, or I, (or potentially Y I suppose) it is soft, and produces an "s" sound
  • If the c is followed by anything else (O, U, or a consonant), it is hard, and produces a "k" sound

So, if instead of Coke, one had *Coce, the second "c" would be soft, since it's followed by an "e," and hence the word would be pronounced like "cose" (like close without the l).

"But wait," you say, "why are you talking about French? We were discussing a phenomenon of English, you silly git!" Well, I was just getting to that. When the Normans, who were French, took over England, their language (Old French) was all muddled up with the indigenous, Germanic language, and this is why we have a lot of French-ish pronunciation rules and grammar.

What that all boils down to is that we need to put the "k" in to make Coke sound like the first syllable of Coca-Cola. It's a phonetic abbreviation, not an orthographic one.

Coke (?), n. [Perh. akin to cake, n.]

Mineral coal charred, or deprived of its bitumen, sulphur, or other volatile matter by roasting in a kiln or oven, or by distillation, as in gas works. It is largely used where smokeless fire is required.

[Written also coak.]

Gas coke, the coke formed in gas retorts, as distinguished from that made in ovens.

 

© Webster 1913.


Coke, v. t.

To convert into coke.

 

© Webster 1913.

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