In the world, when they say Yankees, they usually mean Americans. But in America itself, everything is not so simple, where the Yankees mean, first of all, the inhabitants of North America! The word changed its meaning over time, as it was actively influenced by various historical events.
What does the word "Yankee" mean?
In the 18th century America was called New England, and the word "Yankees" meant the descendants of immigrants from Old England who came to explore the new continent. In the famous novel "The Connecticut Yankees at the Court of King Arthur," the word is used in this sense. And only after many years, southerners began to call North Americans that. Already in the modern world, the word has a new meaning - now all Americans are called that. The anti-American slogan "Yankee, go home!" Is widely known, it does not even have to be written in English to make it clear what is meant.
The origin of the word "Yankee"
It is known that for the first time the word "Yankees" was used in 1758 by the English general James Wolff, who gave this name to a soldier from New England. Some suggest that in the language of the Cherokee Indians this word means "coward", others believe that the word is borrowed from another Indian tribe, but the meaning is the same.
The Reverend Father John Hawkwielder suggested in 1819 that the word "Yankee" originated when the Native American Indians began to learn English. James Fenimore Cooper, renowned author of adventure novels about the interaction of Native American peoples and settlers, supports this theory.
There is another theory that the word is of Dutch origin. Dutch colonies were present in America in large numbers, for example, these are the states of New York, New Jersey and part of Connecticut. The Indians from the Dutch colonies actively interacted with the Indians from the English settlements. There are two popular Dutch names: Jan and Kaas, they are often combined into one, something like "Jan Kaas" is obtained. This serves as a kind of common name for the people, as well as "Fritz" or "Ivan". The Dutch colonists were often called Jan Kaas or Jan Kiis, the second combination gaining an additional meaning associated with cheeses. The Dutch are known to love cheese.
Spreading the word "Yankee"
By the end of the 18th century, the word Yankee had become ubiquitous. During the Civil War between North and South, the Confederates called the northerners this way. In those days, the song "Yankee Doodle" was very popular, it partly helped spread the word. This song is currently the Connecticut State Anthem.
For the first time outside America, the word was used by Thomas Chandler, who wrote a story about an American who taught Canadians to be industrious, "like a Yankee."
Interestingly, in Korea today, the word "Yankees" is often called any white person, be it American, French or German.