1795, genus of small evergreen trees native to west Africa, introduced and nativized in New World tropics, from a Latinized form of a West African name of the tree (compare Temne kola, Mandingo kolo). The cola-nut contains much caffeine.
Meaning "carbonated soft drink" is 1919, short for Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Cola, and their many imitators. A 1900 publication ("Alcohol," by the Woman's Christian Temperance Union) lists the names of drinks found to contain caffeine and extract of coca leaf:
Afri Cola, Ala Cola, Cafe Coca, Carre Cola, Celery Cola, Chan Ola, Chera Cola, Coca Beta, Coca Cola, Pilsbury's Coke, Cola Coke, Cream Cola, Dope, Four Kola, Hayo Kola, Heck's Cola, Kaye Ola, Koca Nola, Koke, Kola Ade, Kola Kola, Kola Phos, Koloko, Kos Kola, Lime Cola, Lima Ola, Mellow Nip, Nerv Ola, Revive Ola, Rocola, Rye Ola, Standard Cola, Toka Tona, Tokola, Vim-O, French Wine of Coca, Wise Ola.
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Definitions of kola from WordNet
tree bearing large brown nuts containing e.g. caffeine; source of cola extract;
Synonyms: kola nut / kola nut tree / goora nut / Cola acuminata