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Yankee

[yang-kee] /ˈyæŋ ki/
noun
1.
a native or inhabitant of the United States.
2.
a native or inhabitant of New England.
3.
a native or inhabitant of a northern U.S. state, especially of one of the northeastern states that sided with the Union in the American Civil War.
4.
a federal or northern soldier in the American Civil War.
5.
a word used in communications to represent the letter Y.
6.
Military. the NATO name for a class of Soviet ballistic missile submarine, nuclear powered, with up to 16 missile launchers.
adjective
7.
of, pertaining to, or characteristic of a Yankee or Yankees:
Yankee ingenuity.
Origin
1750-1760
1750-60, Americanism; perhaps back formation from Dutch Jan Kees John Cheese, nickname (mistaken for plural) applied by the Dutch of colonial New York to English settlers in Connecticut
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for Yankee

Yankee

/ˈjæŋkɪ/
noun
1.
(often derogatory) a native or inhabitant of the US; American
2.
a native or inhabitant of New England
3.
a native or inhabitant of the Northern US, esp a Northern soldier in the Civil War
4.
(communications) a code word for the letter y
5.
(finance) a bond issued in the US by a foreign borrower
adjective
6.
of, relating to, or characteristic of Yankees
Word Origin
C18: perhaps from Dutch Jan Kees John Cheese, nickname used derisively by Dutch settlers in New York to designate English colonists in Connecticut
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for Yankee

1683, a name applied disparagingly by Dutch settlers in New Amsterdam (New York) to English colonists in neighboring Connecticut. It may be from Dutch Janke, literally "Little John," diminutive of common personal name Jan; or it may be from Jan Kes familiar form of "John Cornelius," or perhaps an alteration of Jan Kees, dialectal variant of Jan Kaas, literally "John Cheese," the generic nickname the Flemings used for Dutchmen.

[I]t is to be noted that it is common to name a droll fellow, regarded as typical of his country, after some favorite article of food, as E[nglish] Jack-pudding, G[erman] Hanswurst ("Jack Sausage"), F[rench] Jean Farine ("Jack Flour"). [Century Dictionary, 1902, entry for "macaroni"]
It originally seems to have been applied insultingly to the Dutch, especially freebooters, before they turned around and slapped it on the English. A less-likely theory is that it represents some southern New England Algonquian language mangling of English. In English a term of contempt (1750s) before its use as a general term for "native of New England" (1765); during the American Revolution it became a disparaging British word for all American native or inhabitants. Shortened form Yank in reference to "an American" first recorded 1778.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Yankee in Culture

Yankee 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.

Note: The expression “Yankee, go home” reflects foreign resentment of American presence or involvement in other nations' affairs.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Encyclopedia Article for Yankee

a native or citizen of the United States or, more narrowly, of the New England states of the United States (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut). The term Yankee is often associated with such characteristics as shrewdness, thrift, ingenuity, and conservatism. It was applied to Federal soldiers and other Northerners by Southerners during the American Civil War (1861-65) and afterward.

Learn more about Yankee with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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