Skip to main content
Select Source:

Yankee

Yankee, term used by Americans generally in reference to a native of New England and by non-Americans, especially the British, in reference to an American of any section. The word is most likely from the Dutch and may have been derived from Janke, diminutive of Jan [John]; from Jan and Kees, diminutive of Cornelis [Cornelius]; or from Jankaas, a combination of Jan and kaas [cheese], thus signifying John Cheese. Another hypothesized derivation is a Native American mispronunciation of English.

As early as 1683, Yankey was a common nickname among the pirates of the Spanish Main; always, however, it was borne by Dutch sailors. There is no satisfactory explanation of how it came to be applied to the English settlers of colonial America and particularly to New Englanders. By 1765 it was in use as a term of contempt or derision, but by the opening of the American Revolution, New Englanders were proud to be called Yankees. The popularity of the marching song Yankee Doodle probably had much to do with the term's subsequent wide usage.

In the Civil War the word was applied disparagingly by the Confederates to Union soldiers and Northerners generally, and with Southern hatred for the North rekindled by the Reconstruction period it survived long after the war was over. In World War I, the English began calling American soldiers, both Southerners and Northerners, Yankees. At that time too the shortened form Yank became popular in the United States, with George M. Cohan's war song "Over There" contributing largely to its increased usage. However, Yank, too, was known in the 18th cent., as early as 1778, and the Confederates also used that form in the Civil War. Yankee and Yank were again popular designations for the American soldier in World War II. In Latin America the term Yanqui is applied to U.S. citizens, often—especially after the Cuba revolution—with a note of hostility.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Yankee." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 26 Sep. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Yankee." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 26, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/yankee

"Yankee." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved September 26, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/yankee

Yankee

YANKEE

YANKEE, derived from the disparaging Dutch name Jan Kees (John Cheese) for New England Puritans in the 1660s, became a colloquial name for all New Englanders. Popularized by the British army march, "Yankee Doodle" (1750), it was adopted proudly by the Connecticut militia, and appeared in Royal Tyler's play The Contrast (1787), Seba Smith's Major Jack Dowling satires (1829), and James Russell Lowell's Biglow Papers (1848).

Southerners referred to Union soldiers as Yankees during the Civil War, but in World War I all American soldiers were dubbed Yankees. As an ethnic group, the Yankee descends from the Congregational British settlers of colonial New England, noted for their ingenuity and flinty character.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Haywood, Charles Fry. Yankee Dictionary: A Compendium of Useful and Entertaining Expressions Indigenous to New England. Lynn, Mass.: Jackson and Phillips, 1963.

Peter C.Holloran

See alsoNew England Colonies ; Puritans and Puritanism ; Theocracy in New England .

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Yankee." Dictionary of American History. . Encyclopedia.com. 26 Sep. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Yankee." Dictionary of American History. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 26, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/yankee

"Yankee." Dictionary of American History. . Retrieved September 26, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/yankee

Yankee

YANKEE

YANKEE. The Yankee was a famous privateer brig from Bristol, Rhode Island, with eighteen guns and 120 officers and men. During the War of 1812, it cruised off Halifax, Nova Scotia, and in the South Atlantic and took eighteen prizes worth nearly $1 million. In two later voyages, under Elisha Snow, the Yankee cruised off Ireland and in the Atlantic with success, one prize (the San Jose Indiano) netting $500,000. In six voyages it captured British ships worth $5 million, $1 million of which actually reached Bristol.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Jones, Noah. Journals of Two Cruises Aboard the American Privateer "Yankee." New York: Macmillan, 1967.

Maclay, Edgar S. A History of American Privateers. New York: D. Appleton, 1899. Reprint, New York: B. Franklin, 1968.

Walter B.Norris/a. r.

See alsoInternational Law ; Privateers and Privateering ; War of 1812 .

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Yankee." Dictionary of American History. . Encyclopedia.com. 26 Sep. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Yankee." Dictionary of American History. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 26, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/yankee-0

"Yankee." Dictionary of American History. . Retrieved September 26, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/yankee-0

Yankee

Yankee an often derogatory term for a person who lives in, or is from, the US, especially, an inhabitant of New England or one of the northern states, or a Federal soldier in the Civil War. The term is recorded from the mid 18th century but the origin is uncertain; it may come (as a nickname) from Dutch Janke, diminutive of Jan ‘John’.
Yankee Doodle Dandy a song popular during the War of American Independence, now regarded as a national song; the tune is said to have been composed in 1755 by Dr Richard Shuckburgh, a British surgeon in Lord Amherst's army, in derision of provincial troops.
Yankee State an informal name for Ohio.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Yankee." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. 26 Sep. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Yankee." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 26, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/yankee

"Yankee." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Retrieved September 26, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/yankee

Yankee

Yan·kee / ˈyang/ • n. inf. 1. often derog. a person who lives in, or is from, the U.S. 2. an inhabitant of New England or one of the northern states. ∎ hist. a Union soldier in the Civil War. 3. a code word representing the letter Y, used in radio communication. ORIGIN: mid 18th cent.: origin uncertain; recorded in the late 17th cent. as a nickname; perhaps from Dutch Janke, diminutive of Jan ‘John.’

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Yankee." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 26 Sep. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Yankee." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 26, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/yankee-1

"Yankee." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved September 26, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/yankee-1

Yankee

Yankee native of New England (hence of the U.S.A.). XVIII. None of the proposed etyms. is convincing; most plausibly on formal grounds, spec. application of Yankee, Yank(e)y (XVII–XVIII) as a surname or nickname, perh. based on Du. Jan John and intended as a dim. form (= Jantje).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Yankee." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. 26 Sep. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Yankee." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 26, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/yankee-2

"Yankee." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Retrieved September 26, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/yankee-2

Yankee

Yankeeackee, Bacchae, baccy, cracky, Jackie, lackey, tacky, wacky •latchkey • talcy •cranky, Frankie, hanky, hanky-panky, lanky, manky, swanky, wanky, Yankee •Askey, Pulaski •Polanski • Blavatsky • Stanislavsky •ticky-tacky •Iraqi, Kawasaki, khaki, larky, malarkey, menarche, Nagasaki, narky, parky, raki, saké, saki, sarky, souvlaki, sparky, sukiyaki, teriyaki •passkey •matriarchy, patriarchy •diarchy • oligarchy • synarchy •hierarchy •Becky, recce, techie •Elkie • Palenque •Esky, pesky •Dostoevsky, Paderewski •achy, Blakey, flaky, quaky, shaky, snaky, wakey-wakey •headachy •beaky, cheeky, cliquey, cock-a-leekie, creaky, freaky, Geikie, Kon-Tiki, Leakey, leaky, peaky, reeky, sleeky, sneaky, squeaky, streaky, Thessaloníki, tiki, tzatziki

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Yankee." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 26 Sep. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Yankee." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 26, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/yankee-0

"Yankee." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved September 26, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/yankee-0