[ yang-kee ]
/ ˈyæŋ ki /
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of, relating to, or characteristic of a Yankee or Yankees: Yankee ingenuity.
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Origin of Yankee

An Americanism dating back to 1680–90 of uncertain origin; 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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use Yankee in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for Yankee


informal Yank

/ (ˈjæŋkɪ) /

often derogatory a native or inhabitant of the US; American
a native or inhabitant of New England
a native or inhabitant of the Northern US, esp a Northern soldier in the Civil War
communications a code word for the letter y
finance a bond issued in the US by a foreign borrower
of, relating to, or characteristic of Yankees

Word Origin for Yankee

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

Cultural definitions for Yankee


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.

notes for Yankee

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