General Question

EtherRoom's avatar

What is a Yankee ?

Asked by EtherRoom (381points) May 31st, 2011

I’m watching the movie “Gone With the Wind”, and they keep saying the word “Yankee”. What does this mean ? What kind of person is a “Yankee”?

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20 Answers

JilltheTooth's avatar

“Yankee” in that context is usually preceded by the word “Damn” and in the movie means anyone from the northern US states.

WestRiverrat's avatar

Originally Yankee Doodle was a slur used by redcoats to describe Colonists. The colonists started wearing it as a badge of honor during the Revolutionary war. During the War of Northern Aggression it was anyone that supported or fought for the Union.

Johnny Reb was the nickname given to the Confederate forces.

Kayak8's avatar

@WestRiverrat Thank God, someone else with the sensitivity to refer to the War of Northern Aggression! @JilltheTooth I also put the prefix Damn in front of Yankee . . .

JilltheTooth's avatar

Being one of the “damn” ones, I still callously call it the Civil War, but I must admit, the War of Northern Aggression has a cooler sound to it.

TexasDude's avatar

Anyone from above the Mason-Dixon line, in that context. The word has a lot of meanings though. In some countries, Yankee refers to Americans in general, for instance.

josie's avatar

In that context, it means Northerners, people above the Mason Dixon line. In a more abstract context, it is a what it sounded like when some Native Americans said the word “English”

WasCy's avatar

It depends on how far away from the homeland you get.

To the rest of the world, “Yankee” means “an American” (specifically, a citizen of the USA).

To a southerner in the USA, a Yankee is someone from the northern part of the country.

To those of us in New England, a Yankee is someone from one of the six states in New England (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island or Connecticut).

And to people in New York, it’s a member of this year’s second place finisher (to be) in the American League of Major League Baseball.

Jeruba's avatar

I agree with @Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard‘s response and would simply amend it to say that in that context it’s the Southerners’ term for anyone from above the Mason-Dixon line—in other words, a Northerner.

In some places “Yankee” or “Yank” refers to Americans in a more or less friendly and affectionate way—as when we call folks Brits and they in return call us Yanks. In other places, it’s practically a dirty word.

[Edit] Top marks to @WasCy‘s response for both comprehensiveness and precision.

zenvelo's avatar

@WasCy That’s second place or lower in the junior circuit.

For most true loyal Americans, it is a name of honor representing those who fought to preserve the Union from the treasonous Southern states that started the Civil War by firing on Fort Sumter.

WasCy's avatar


My take on that is a bit different: I suggest that the Yankees in the so-called War of Northern Aggression were trying to divest themselves of the Southern states… and we lost.

choreplay's avatar

Generally people who come south from the Northeastern United States are more brash and less refined in being socially tactful. They’re louder and pushier. That’s the stereotype in a nutshell.

incendiary_dan's avatar

@josie was on the right track, except that Yankee comes from an indigenous word used to refer to English colonists, but it means ‘dog’. I think it was because of the smell.

zenvelo's avatar

@incendiary_dan There is no basis for your supposition as to the etymology of “Yankee.”

woodcutter's avatar

I think from other countries, Americans are called “Yanks”. Yankee is more domestic.

rooeytoo's avatar

To most aussies, I am a “bloody yank!” I choose to take it as a compliment!

(When did the politically correct people change the name of the Civil War???)

WestRiverrat's avatar

It never changed. It has always been the War of Northern Aggression to a native of the Confederacy.

zenvelo's avatar

@WestRiverrat Yes, it was called that as a lie to deny the treasonous action against Fort Sumter.

Even my 8th grade US History teacher from Alabama called it the War Between The States.

WestRiverrat's avatar

@zenvelo From the Southern point of view, the North was illegally occupying territory of the sovereign state of South Carolina. And Fort Sumter was not the first action of the war. There were several bloody skirmishes before Ft. Sumter was fired upon.

Roby's avatar

MY WIFE!!! self proclamed…LOL

incendiary_dan's avatar

@zenvelo My basis is numerous teachers and professors in anthropology departments. Want me to call them all up and ask their primary sources?

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