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Posted by ESC on February 06, 2001

In Reply to: Yankee posted by ESC on February 06, 2001

: : anyone know where Yankee as in Yankee Doodle Dandy originates from and why ?

: : drop me a line on

: : nice

: : eb.

: I'll bet this is one of those words that has several theories to explain its origin. Here's what one source says: YANKEE - ".Originally, 'Yankee' was 'Jan Kaas,' a disparaging nickname for a Hollander ('Jan' meaning 'John' and 'Kaas' or 'Kees' meaning 'cheese') Later it came to be used as a term for a Dutch freebooter. The Dutch, after coming to America and settling in what is now New York, applied the term to the English who moved into Connecticut. For a while 'Yankee' was used generally in the colonies to apply to any northern neighbor who was disliked, but by the time of the Revolutionary War, the British had come to use it to apply to any colonist. In fact, the song 'Yankee Doodle Dandy' was originally a song of derision sung by British soldiers to mock the poorly clothed colonialists.Novelist John Fenimore Cooper had a different theory.Indians, said Cooper, pronounced 'English' as 'Yengees'.Professor Harold Bender, who contributed his vast and profound scholarship to the great 'Merriam-Webster New International,' Second Edition.(said) 'Often derived, Indian corruption of English, or Anglais, but probably from a D(utch) derivation of 'Jan' as applied by the Dutch of New York to the English of Connecticut." From "Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins" by William and Mary Morris (HarperCollins, New York, 1977, 1988).

And more theories from a second reference: "The source of 'Yankee' has long been disputed and its origin still uncertain, despite all the research devoted to it. Candidates, among many, have included a slave named Yankee offered for sale in 1725, a Dutch sea captain named Yanky, the Yankos Indians, the Dutch name Janke ('Johnny'), which the Dutch applied to the English, and an Indian mispronunciation ('Yengees') of the word 'English.' The most popular explanation, also unproved, is that Yankee comes from 'Jan Kees,' a contemptuous Flemish and German nickname for the Dutch that the English first applied to the Dutch in the New World. In any case, 'Yankee' seems to have been first applied to Americans by British soldiers serving under General James Wolfe in the French and Indian War prior to 1758. A letter written by Wolfe himself in that year uses the word as a contemptuous nickname for Americans.It wasn't until the Battle of Lexington, the first battle of the Revolution in 1775, that Americans began applying the nickname 'Yankee' to themselves and making it respectable." From "Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 1997)