I saw this in an upvoted YouTube comment:

  • To foreigners, a Yankee is an American.
  • To Americans, a Yankee is a Northerner.
  • To Easterners, a Yankee is a New Englander.
  • To New Englanders, a Yankee is a Vermonter.
  • And in Vermont, a Yankee is somebody who eats pie for breakfast

Is there any truth to the last three assertions?

  • 5
    I lived in the Boston area for 27 years, and there a Yankee is someone you boo and throw batteries at in Fenway Park.
    – Robusto
    Nov 11 '20 at 22:42
  • 1
    The last definition is not so much "this is a Yankee" as this is a stereotypical Yankee: a laconic, hard-scrabble farmer. Farmers did indeed often have dessert for breakfast in Vermont and other New England states. Then, they had put in a good amount of work by then.
    – Mary
    Nov 12 '20 at 0:47
  • 7
    Not sure why this was flagged as opinion-based. There's a lot of objective research into American regional dialects; witness those maps of the most common word used to describe soft drinks.
    – nick012000
    Nov 21 '20 at 4:51

I first heard this on an NPR special radio program, July 4, 1976, the bicentennial of the US Declaration of Independence. The reporter said she had made multiple phone calls to ask what the word "yankee" meant.

The last line was replaced by two lines, however. To a Vermonter, a "yankee" is a resident of two particular counties in Vermont (I don't remember the names). And to someone in those two counties, a "yankee" was someone who like apple pie for breakfast.


Apparently so, according to Wikipedia:

The term Yankee and its contracted form Yank have several interrelated meanings, all referring to people from the United States. Its various senses depend on the context, and may refer to New Englanders, residents of the Northern United States, or Americans in general. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it is "a nickname for a native or inhabitant of New England, or, more widely, of the northern States generally".

  • If a different meaning existed in New England or Vermont, would Wikipedia or OED list them?
    – MWB
    Nov 11 '20 at 23:42
  • 1
    What about Vermont and pie?
    – Mitch
    Nov 23 '20 at 0:28
  • 1
    @Mitch The OED difinition of Yankee does not include Vermont or pie, but does include Ohio. oed.com/view/Entry/231174?rskey=zUkw61&result=1#eid
    – ab2
    Dec 15 '20 at 21:26
  • @ab2 Ohio is called 'the Yankee State'? That's a new one for me.
    – Mitch
    Dec 15 '20 at 22:11

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