Where Did the Word Yankee Come From?
The origin of the famous nickname “Yankee” for Americans is a mystery. Scholars once thought it came from “Yengees,” the American Indian pronunciation of “l’anglais,” the French word for English.
Another idea is that it came from a Scottish word meaning “shrewd.” Early New Englanders were known for their exacting business practices, and were “shrewd as Yankees” in getting the highest prices for their goods.
Another theory is that it came from a Dutch name and was used at first only for Dutch settlers.
It was “used as a nickname for a Dutch-speaking American in colonial times” and could have grown to include non-Dutch colonists as well. No one knows which idea is right.