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Carryout vs. Takeaway: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on November 2, 2023
Carryout is American English for food ordered to be picked up and eaten elsewhere, while takeaway is the British English term for the same concept.

Key Differences

Carryout is primarily American English, signifying food ordered and taken from a restaurant to eat elsewhere. The term itself implies the action of taking the food out of the restaurant. Takeaway, on the other hand, is British English, serving the same purpose but may also refer broadly to key points extracted from an event or conversation.
The context of carryout is typically limited to food services, whereas takeaway can transcend food, applying to information and experiences as well. For instance, the ‘takeaways’ from a meeting are the important points remembered or noted.
In the American restaurant industry, carryout menus are specifically designed for customers intending to eat off the premises. In contrast, British establishments may offer a ‘takeaway’ service, along with seating options, but the term is rarely used outside of food-related contexts.
While carryout strictly pertains to the transport of items, typically food, takeaway can also be an abstract concept, meaning the lessons or conclusions one derives from a situation. For example, one can have takeaways from a book or seminar.
Both carryout and takeaway suggest a service where the preparation and the consumption of the product are spatially separated, emphasizing convenience and speed, but the usage of each term is largely determined by regional dialects.

Comparison Chart

Regional Usage

American English
British English

Non-food Connotations

Rarely used beyond food
Can refer to key points or lessons gleaned from experiences

Service Type

Food prepared to be taken and consumed elsewhere
Same as carryout, but also used for abstract takeaways

Menu Terminology

Specific carryout menus for restaurants
Menu items labeled for takeaway


To-go (U.S.)
Takeout (U.K.)

Carryout and Takeaway Definitions


Food ordered and picked up from a restaurant.
We ordered carryout from our favorite pizza place.


The main message or lesson gained from an experience or discourse.
The key takeaway from the lecture was to always back up data.


A restaurant service where food is to be taken off the premises.
This diner's carryout service is very efficient.


Food intended to be eaten away from the place of purchase.
We decided on a Chinese takeaway for dinner.


An action of collecting prepared food to eat elsewhere.
He went to the counter to pick up his carryout.


A shop or service offering prepared meals for consumption elsewhere.
There's a new takeaway opening on High Street.


An establishment offering prepared food for off-site consumption.
Let's get Chinese from that new carryout down the street.


An act of taking something from a place.
The investigation’s takeaway was critical evidence.


A command to take something away or move it out.
Please carryout the old furniture to the truck.


A conclusion or end result of an analysis or situation.
The takeaway from the meeting was less than satisfactory.


Food that is intended to be eaten outside the establishment from which it is bought.


(Sports) The act or an instance of taking away the ball or puck from the team on the offensive, as by recovery of a fumbled football or by interception of a passed puck.


An establishment that prepares and sells food to be taken away on demand; a takeaway.


The lesson or principle that one learns from a story or event. Used with the.


What is carryout?

Carryout refers to food ordered from a restaurant to be eaten elsewhere.

Are carryout and takeaway interchangeable?

Yes, in the context of food services, but regionally specific.

Do both terms imply a quick service?

Generally, yes, both are associated with convenience.

Is takeaway commonly used in American English?

Less so than carryout; "takeout" is more common in the U.S.

Does takeaway only refer to food in the UK?

Primarily, but it can also mean the main points taken from an experience.

Can one have a takeaway from a book or movie?

Yes, takeaway can mean a key message or lesson learned.

Are there cultural differences in the way carryout and takeaway are used?

Yes, with carryout being more American and takeaway more British.

Can a restaurant be called a carryout?

Yes, if it primarily serves food for off-premises consumption.

How do I ask for food to go in the UK?

You would typically ask for a takeaway.

Can carryout refer to lessons learned?

Not usually, it's more about food or other items being moved out.

What's the environmental impact of carryout/takeaway?

It can increase waste due to packaging, though many places now use eco-friendly materials.

What does takeaway mean?

Takeaway means food bought to be eaten off-premises; in the UK, it can also refer to key points from a discussion.

Can a dine-in restaurant offer carryout?

Yes, many do as an additional service.

What's the typical waiting time for carryout or takeaway?

It varies, but is often faster than dine-in services.

Can I call in advance for a carryout?

Yes, many restaurants encourage calling ahead.

Is there a difference in food quality between carryout and takeaway?

No, the terms do not imply a difference in food quality, only the service style.

Do carryout and takeaway require tipping?

It's less expected than for dine-in, but often appreciated.

What is a carryout menu?

A menu designed for customers ordering food to take away from the establishment.

How has the pandemic affected carryout and takeaway services?

These services have seen a significant increase due to social distancing measures.

Why would I choose carryout/takeaway over delivery?

For immediacy, to avoid delivery charges, or when passing by the restaurant.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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