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Yankees from Cheese

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Back in the 1600s, the Germans and the Flemish (modern-day Belgium) called the Dutch Jan Kaas [source]. This translates to John Cheese is was a derogatory nickname like "Joe Shmoe," being as the Dutch were know for their cheeses [source]. This name was later attributed to Dutch pirates and was used in the Caribbean as well as Europe. The English who sailed to the New World were also called Yankees, or something in between that and Jan Kaas. To those in England, inhabitants of the New World were all considered Yankees. During the Revolutionary War, the song "Yankee Doodle" was popular although its connotation starts to get fuzzy around this time[source]. The extended "Yankee Doodle Dandy" was also sung by the Royal Army "to mock the poorly clothed colonialists" [source]. The usage during the Civil War by the South to refer to the North only compounded to the use of the word in England as all things American.

Using the word Johnny to refer to an American is directly tied into this: in Dutch Janke. The New York Yankees comes from the New Amsterdam Dutch.

 

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