A soft drink is a drink that typically contains carbonated water, a sweetener and a natural or artificial flavoring.
The sweetener may be sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, fruit juice, sugar substitutes (in the case of diet drinks) or some combination of these. Soft drinks may also contain caffeine, colorings, preservatives and other ingredients.
Soft drinks are called "soft" in contrast to "hard drinks" (alcoholic beverages). Small amounts of alcohol may be present in a soft drink, but the alcohol content must be less than 0.5% of the total volume if the drink is to be considered non-alcoholic. Fruit juice, tea and other such non-alcoholic beverages are technically soft drinks by this definition but are not generally referred to as such.