Meaning of Yankee in English:



  • 1informal, derogatory An American.

    • ‘Sistani is playing the fence, while Sadr has maintained a simple line from day one, Yankee go home.’
    • ‘Wipe the smarmy smirk off that damn Yankee's face tonight.’
    • ‘But if he is coming to dictate what we should do, then we will say ‘Go back home, Yankee.’’
    • ‘When I ask if you would please get me a Coke, you're supposed to ask me what kind of Coke, because I could mean a Sprite or a Dr. Pepper, you Yankee.’
    • ‘As the seemingly token Yankee on this here corner of the blogosphere, I almost feel it necessary for me to apologize for my northern brethren, and quite frankly for myself.’
    • ‘‘Damn Yankee,’ I spat back, a mischievous grin crossing my face.’
    • ‘UPDATE: Yankee's 17-year-old son writes pretty damn well, too.’
  • 2US informal An inhabitant of New England or one of the northern states.

    ‘Whatever the reason, Yankee is first recorded in 1765 as a name for an inhabitant of New England.’
    1. 2.1informal, historical A Federal soldier in the Civil War.
      • ‘As the Roman god Janus looks in two directions, so did the homebound Yankee soldiers.’
      • ‘With their swords and muskets raised the Yankee soldier began killing every confederate soldier in sight.’
      • ‘Matthew McConaughey would be perfect as Dennis, if he didn't have to play a Yankee in a civil war reenactment.’
      • ‘What did the Yankee soldiers think of Huntsville?’
      • ‘The Civil War begins and Inman is enlisted to fight the Yankees, but after months of apparently futile heroism, he deserts, determined to make his way back to Ada.’
      • ‘Marly's ex-husband tells her, ‘I'm not one of these people who lives in the past,’ while wearing a Yankee civil war uniform.’
  • 3informal A bet on four or more horses to win (or be placed) in different races.

    ‘For sheer excitement it would be hard to surpass the M.D.Betting Yankee stake final at Newbridge Friday.’
    ‘I had £32 running on to Hateel, the 11/8 favourite and shortest-odds horse in my Yankee, in the Listed Glorious Stakes at 3.45.’
    wager, stake, gamble, ante
  • 4

    (also Yankee jib)
    A large jib set forward of a staysail in light winds.

    • ‘Far from being an isolated port, one early nineteenth-century view of Monterey harbor shows a Russian brig, a Yankee schooner, and another ship at anchor.’
    • ‘I went forward and lowered the staysail so that it did not blanket the wind from the small, Yankee jib.’
    • ‘Before we left Cape Town we bent on the storm mainsail and set a Yankee jib in the groove of the furling gear.’
  • 5A code word representing the letter Y, used in radio communication.


Mid 18th century origin uncertain; recorded in the late 17th century as a nickname; perhaps from Dutch Janke, diminutive of Jan ‘John’.