Wednesday, July 05, 2006

July 4th + 1

In honor of July 4th, here is Merriam-Webster's word of the day:

Yankee \YANG-kee\ noun

1 a : a native or inhabitant of New England b : a native or inhabitant of the northern U.S. *2 : a native or inhabitant of the U.S.

Example sentence: "They mistake who assert that the Yankee has few amusements...and men and boys do not play so many games as they do in England." (Henry David Thoreau, Walden)

Did you know? Many etymologies have been proposed for "Yankee," but its origin is still uncertain. What we do know is that in its earliest recorded use "Yankee" was a pejorative term for American colonials used by the British military. The first evidence we have is in a letter written in 1758 by British General James Wolfe, who had a very low opinion of the American troops assigned to him. We also have a report of British troops using the term to abuse citizens of Boston. In 1775, however, after the battles of Lexington and Concord had shown the colonials that they could stand up to British regulars, "Yankee" became suddenly respectable and the colonials adopted the British pejorative in defiance. Ever since then, a derisive and a respectable use of "Yankee" have existed side by side.

*Indicates the sense illustrated in the example sentence.

Also, the above picture is thanks to my sister who was lucky enough to spend July 4th on the USS Constitution.

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