Yankee definition by Webster's New World
- ☆ a person born or living in New England
- a person born or living in a Northern State; Northerner
- a Union soldier in the Civil War
- ☆ a person born or living in the U.S.
Origin: ; from uncertain or unknown; perhaps Dutch Jan Kees (taken as plural ) ; from Jan, John plush Kees, dialect, dialectal form of kaas, cheese; origin, originally (Jan Kaas) used as disparaging nickname for a Hollander, later for Dutch freebooter; applied by colonial Dutch in New York to English settlers in Connecticut
Yankee definition by American Heritage Dictionary
- A native or inhabitant of New England.
- A native or inhabitant of a northern U.S. state, especially a Union soldier during the Civil War.
- A native or inhabitant of the United States.
Origin: Probably from Dutch Janke, nickname of Jan, John.Word History: The origin of Yankee has been the subject of much debate, but the most likely source is the Dutch name Janke, meaning “little Jan” or “little John,” a nickname that dates back to the 1680s. Perhaps because it was used as the name of pirates, the name Yankee came to be used as a term of contempt. It was used this way in the 1750s by General James Wolfe, the British general who secured British domination of North America by defeating the French at Quebec. The name may have been applied to New Englanders as an extension of an original use referring to Dutch settlers living along the Hudson River. Whatever the reason, Yankee is first recorded in 1765 as a name for an inhabitant of New England. The first recorded use of the term by the British to refer to Americans in general appears in the 1780s, in a letter by Lord Horatio Nelson, no less. Around the same time it began to be abbreviated to Yank. During the American Revolution, American soldiers adopted this term of derision as a term of national pride. The derisive use nonetheless remained alive and even intensified in the South during the Civil War, when it referred not to all Americans but to those loyal to the Union. Now the term carries less emotion—except of course for baseball fans.
Yankee - Cultural Definition
Originally a nickname for people from New England, now applied to anyone from the United States. Even before the American Revolutionary War, the term Yankee was used by the British to refer, derisively, to the American colonists. Since the Civil War, American southerners have called all northerners Yankees. Since World War I, the rest of the world has used the term to refer to all Americans.
- The expression “Yankee, go home” reflects foreign resentment of American presence or involvement in other nations' affairs.