Yan·kee (yăng’kē)
n. 1) A native or inhabitant of New England, especially one of English descent. 2) A native or inhabitant of a northern US state, especially a Union soldier during the Civil War. 3) A native or inhabitant of the United States.
[Origin unknown.]
Word History: The first known attestation of the word Yankee is found in a letter from 1758 by General James Wolfe—he used it as a term of contempt for the American colonial troops in his command. The song Yankee Doodle, which in early versions was sung by British troops to mock colonial Americans, originally used Yankee in this way: Yankee Doodle came to town / For to buy a firelock / We will tar and feather him / And so we will John Hancock. However, colonial American soldiers turned the derisive epithet around and adopted it as a term of national pride. Many theories of the origin of this term Yankee have been advanced over the years. People already wondered about the word in 1809, when Washington Irving wrote a humorous explanation of the word as coming from a term that "in the Tchusaeg (or Massachusett) language signifies silent men." More serious proposals of a Native American origin of the word have also been made. Some have suggested, for example, that Yankee derives from the pronunciation of the English word English in one of the languages of the Native Americans. However, no form resembling Yankee has been found in records of any Native American language. According to what is perhaps the most popular theory of the origin of Yankee, it comes from Dutch Janke or Janneke, which are variants of Jantje, "Johnnie," the diminutive of Jan, the Dutch equivalent of the English name John. In this theory, Janke or Janneke would have originally been used in English as a nickname for Dutch settlers living along the Hudson River and then later extended to New Englanders. This theory finds some support in the application of the term Yanky, perhaps as a nickname, to a certain Dutch pirate active in the Caribbean in the 1680s. According to yet another theory, Yankee originated as a nickname or informal term for a Dutch person deriving from Jan Kees, a compound name made up of Jan and the common Dutch name Kees, short for Cornelius. Ultimately, however, there is not enough evidence to confirm any of these theories, and the origin of Yankee remains unknown.

Word Histories. 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Yankee — Yankee …   Deutsch Wörterbuch

  • yankee — [ jɑ̃ki ] n. et adj. • 1776; mot angl. amér., d o. i. 1 ♦ Hist. (souvent péj.) Habitant de la Nouvelle Angleterre, puis, durant la guerre de Sécession, Nordiste (pour les Sudistes). 2 ♦ Vieilli Américain des États Unis (par rapport aux autres… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Yankee in Oz — is a 1972 Oz novel by Ruth Plumly Thompson. It was the first published by The International Wizard of Oz Club. A letter from the Henry Regnery Company, which bought Reilly Lee, is reproduced in the front indicating the publisher s blessing for… …   Wikipedia

  • Yankee — Sm US Amerikaner erw. exot. (18. Jh.) Onomastische Bildung. Entlehnt aus ne. yankee Bewohner der amerikanischen Nordstaaten , dieses wohl zu ndl. Janke, Jantje, einem Diminutiv zu ndl. Jan. Ursprünglich wohl Spitzname für die niederländischen… …   Etymologisches Wörterbuch der deutschen sprache

  • Yankee — Yan kee, a. Of or pertaining to a Yankee; characteristic of the Yankees. [1913 Webster] The alertness of the Yankee aspect. Hawthorne. [1913 Webster] {Yankee clover}. (Bot.) See {Japan clover}, under {Japan}. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Yankee — Yan kee, n. [Commonly considered to be a corrupt pronunciation of the word English, or of the French word Anglais, by the native Indians of America. According to Thierry, a corruption of Jankin, a diminutive of John, and a nickname given to the… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Yankee — (engl., spr. jängki), in Nordamerika Scherzname der Bewohner Neuenglands, in Europa der Nordamerikaner überhaupt. Yankee Doodle (spr. dudl), das Nationallied der Nordamerikaner …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Yankee — A Yankee is properly an inhabitant of New England or of the northern states of the USA, and the name was used with this meaning during the American Civil War. On the other hand the shortened form Yank is commonly applied to Americans generally.… …   Modern English usage

  • Yankee — (spr. Jänkih), eine indianische Verstümmelung des Wortes English (der Engländer), 1) Scherz u. Spottname für die Nordamerikaner, welcher denselben zuerst im Nordamerikanischen Freiheitskriege von den Engländern beigelegt wurde, bezeichnete… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Yankee — (engl., spr. jängki), Name, den man in Amerika selbst den Neuengländern, in Europa aber den Nordamerikanern überhaupt zur Bezeichnung ihres Nationalcharakters beilegt. Y. ist nach einigen die durch die Indianer verderbte Aussprache des Wortes… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Yankee — Yankee, ein Spottname, welchen die Engländer vorzugsweise den Nordamerikanern geben und der s. v. w. Tölpel bedeuten soll …   Damen Conversations Lexikon