What's the American English equivalent to the British "takeaway" when referring to prepared meals that are intended to be eaten elsewhere?

  • 1
    Do you mean shop that only does takeaway food (or the food itself)?
    – CSM
    Commented Mar 2, 2018 at 10:44
  • 2
    @CSM Not necessarily. Shop might ask "Eat in or take away?"
    – gerrit
    Commented Mar 2, 2018 at 20:28
  • As a British Stack Exchange denizen, I can attest that most of the answers below apply just as much to the UK, differences are likely to do with the kind of establishment or the region. E.g. I've no issues asking for Starbucks, Wagamamas or indie shops to go or takeout Commented Mar 3, 2018 at 17:32
  • @TomJNowell Heavy emphasis on the region. Down here in the south west I've never heard anyone call it "takeout", everyone calls it a "takeaway". The only time I've heard "takeout" used in Britain is on Coronation Street, which is set up north in Manchester.
    – Pharap
    Commented Mar 3, 2018 at 18:24
  • @Pharap it might be one of those uniquely southern things then, like how only people south of Birmingham refer to underwear as pants Commented Mar 3, 2018 at 23:04

7 Answers 7


As far as I know, that would be called takeout (sometimes referred to as takeout food). At least, that's what I've most commonly heard my American and Canadian friends say when talking about a prepared meal that you take home with you or someplace else instead of eating it where you bought it. I guess the reason it's called takeout is because you literally take it out of the building.


I would like a medium French fries, a bottle of coke and a hamburger. Make it takeout, please.

Although that would probably work, a more common way to say it would be make it to-go:

I would like a medium French fries, a bottle of coke and a hamburger. Make it to-go, please.

I think you use takeout more in other contexts like I got takeout for dinner last night. Not when ordering.

It depends on the type of restaurant too. For example, if you go to a fast-food restaurant, you would ask for to-go. If you go to a casual dining restaurant, you might ask for takeout. At a very fancy restaurant, you only eat there and taking it home isn't an option. Pizza is a special case though. If you go to a pizza place, you order carry-out.

  • 10
    Yes, as a Canadian (Nova Scotia), this is correct on all counts. If you're in the restaurant ordering, most people would say "I'll get a fish and chips to go", but the term "takeout" would be understood. Or if you don't specify, the person taking your order might ask "Is that for here or to go?". But if you're talking with someone about what to do for supper, you could propose "let's get takeout". (In the latter context, you'd never say "to go", always "takeout".) You could say "I had Chinese takeout for supper", so you can put descriptive words with it to say what kind of takeout. Commented Mar 2, 2018 at 0:16
  • 10
    I mostly agree with this. It might be simpler (although not 100% true) to say that "takeout" is a noun, and "to go" is an adjective (usually spelled without the hyphen). "Take out" is a verb, but infrequently used for this purpose. I hadn't thought about the fact that "carry-out" is only ever used to refer to pizza, but I think you're right: I can't think of any other exceptions.
    – amalloy
    Commented Mar 2, 2018 at 1:25
  • 1
    In the north west (Seattle), it's "to go". You get blank expressions when you ask for "take out". The north east (New York) is more flexible - they understand both, but "to go" is more common. No one understands "take away", despite its meaning being pretty obvious.
    – Bohemian
    Commented Mar 2, 2018 at 20:41
  • 1
    @Joe: More often it's "carryout". It's normal in VA at least, and the bigger pizza delivery chains (Pizza Hut, Papa John's, Domino's) refer to it that way as well.
    – cHao
    Commented Mar 2, 2018 at 23:40
  • 1
    @cHao see, for example, Pizza Hut and Papa John's restaurant locators, or the "carryout" icon on Domino's front page . Speaking of VA area pizza chains, Chanello's appears to prefer the term "pickup"
    – A C
    Commented Mar 3, 2018 at 6:37

We usually call it carry out, take out, or to go here in America.


Would you like that meal to go or to stay?

This phrase is most commonly used when you are at a fast food restaurant, and they ask you whether you wish to dine there, or take the food with you. I also see this used if you are seated at a restaurant and you want to take home some leftover food. You might say: can I get a to go box, or can I get this to go?

Is that carry out or dine in?

Is that take out or dine in?

These are two phrases you might more commonly hear if you are ordering at a restaurant, they might ask you if you wanted to just pick up a meal you ordered, order a meal to take home, or eat there at the restaurant.

  • All three terms are used, but, insofar as nouns go, that's generally the first two more than the third.
    – J.R.
    Commented Mar 1, 2018 at 23:01
  • Fair point. I hear people misuse it sometimes though:-)
    – Element115
    Commented Mar 1, 2018 at 23:08
  • 2
    "Take out", or "takeout", according to Merriam-Webster's, is probably used more outside the store ("the couple opened up about watching the drama [on TV] while enjoying takeout", ibd.). "To go" would sound strange here since you aren't going anywhere. Inside the restaurant though one would often use "to go" ("I'd like a hamburger." "For here or to go?"). Commented Mar 2, 2018 at 14:46
  • 2
    This is a good answer, but "to stay" is not a common phrase. The opposite of "to go" is "eat in" or "dine in" (or some other minor variations on these phrases).
    – jpmc26
    Commented Mar 3, 2018 at 8:54
  • I find the concept that a nicer restaurant might even offer the possibility of takeout totally alien.
    – Flexo
    Commented Mar 3, 2018 at 19:43

It can vary in the United States, but in general, for fast food it's referred to as "To go". For example, when you order at McDonald's, the cashier will ask "Is that for here or to go?".

For places where you typically call in to place your order, and either pick it up yourself, or have it delivered (Chinese, pizza, etc.), it's called "takeout" or "delivery", respectively.

For example, if someone says "I'm going to grab some Chinese takeout", they place their order, then go pick it up at the place. I think this is the closest parallel to the British "takeaway".

If they said "I'm going to have some Chinese delivered" or "Want to get some Chinese delivery?" they place their order then have it delivered to their home.

Some regions use "carry-out" instead of "takeout".

  • 1
    I'd note that, for fast food, "to go" is used adjectivally. That is, someone might say, "Let's get some takeout tonight," but I don't think I've ever heard anyone say, "Let's get some to go tonight." However, you might hear, "Let's get something to go tonight." (It's important to make these distinctions when telling an English learner how the language works.) It's not really the food or the meal that's referred to as "to go" – more like the type of order.
    – J.R.
    Commented Mar 2, 2018 at 10:45

"Takeout" is referring to food that is not consumed in the place it's prepared"

"To Go" and "Takeout" refer to the same thing, but are used in different contexts.

At the point of actually ordering, "To Go" is used to communicate that the food should be packaged for travel.

This makes the food "Takeout".

So basically "Takeout" food is "To Go" and "Dine In" food is not "To Go"


In the UK "takeaway" often refers to what in the US is called "delivery". Someone brings the food to your house. So, "carryout", "to go", "delivery". Doggy bags are for leftovers. No one orders a meal in the form of a doggy bag.

  • "Takeaway" is not delivery. It's when you go get the food.
    – cHao
    Commented Mar 2, 2018 at 23:49
  • 1
    @cHao Maybe in American English the distinction is clearer, but in British English when someone says "let's get a takeaway" they could be suggesting delivery or collection.
    – Andy F
    Commented Mar 3, 2018 at 8:20
  • @AndyF: Weird. en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/takeaway says "North American term takeout", and takeout is not delivered. (So yes, i guess the distinction is clearer. :)) But i could imagine services like GrubHub blurring the line a bit, by delivering food from takeout places. Y'all have equivalents in the UK?
    – cHao
    Commented Mar 3, 2018 at 8:51
  • 2
    @cHao yeah, there's now plenty of online delivery services now that will bring you food from anywhere you might have previously had to go and collect from. In my experience it would all fall under the category of "takeaway", regardless of who brings it to your house (yourself or the delivery guy). There are probably exceptions around the UK - parlance can vary drastically from county to county.
    – Andy F
    Commented Mar 3, 2018 at 10:27
  • In Scotland it's called a carry-out
    – user87568
    Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 18:46

To go or takeout. If you do say takeaway in USA, it could be understood as taking something out is the same as taking something away.

  • This answer doesn't add anything new, your suggestions were already offered in Element115's answer. Be careful not to replicate information.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jun 3 at 9:55

We also sometimes request a "doggy bag", which is the same thing as take-out.

Example: "Can I get a doggy bag to go?"

Here's an example from Can I Have This to Go?

During a recent meal at Craftsteak, I was impressed by the way the restaurant handled a request by one of my companions that unconsumed portions of food on the table be wrapped up so she could take them away.

After servers cleared the table, one of them returned with a claim check instead of a doggie bag.

  • 1
    I get what you're saying, but I think doggy bag is more for food that you want to take home for your dog or other animal. It's like scrap food. At least in the context I've heard it spoken. I think this gentleman/woman is asking more about food for humans:) PS: Hello fellow C# programmer:P
    – Element115
    Commented Mar 2, 2018 at 1:43
  • 19
    @Element115 I'm a US native, and doggy bag is indeed used for food intended for human consumption, despite its literal meaning. I believe the answers like "to go" which you have listed in your answer are much more common, but "doggy bag" is indeed used.
    – Cort Ammon
    Commented Mar 2, 2018 at 2:28
  • 13
    Even the article you link do does not support this statement. Surely doggie bags are for leftovers?
    – pipe
    Commented Mar 2, 2018 at 3:10
  • 24
    Agree with pipe: "takeout" (like "takeaway") is food that's ordered with the intention of being eaten elsewhere. A "doggy bag" is food which was ordered to be eaten in the restaurant, but due to portion size or lack of hunger was not finished there. The leftovers are then taken home in a "doggy bag", which despite the name may be intended for later human consumption.
    – R.M.
    Commented Mar 2, 2018 at 3:26
  • 12
    I agree that we often request a doggy bag. I had to downvote, though, for the erroneous assertion that a doggy bag "is the same thing as takeout". Takeout means I'm carrying a fresh order out of the restaurant; a doggy bag means I'm taken out leftover food from a meal partially eaten. @Element115 - Despite the name, as often as not, the food in a doggy bag gets consumed by the diner, not the diner's pet.
    – J.R.
    Commented Mar 2, 2018 at 10:50

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