I have been a bit confused by the term Yank or Yankee in that it seemed to have related, but inconsistent, meanings. From Wikipedia: “Within the US it can refer to people originating in the northeastern US, or still more narrowly New England, where the application of the term is largely further restricted to the descendants of colonial English settlers in the region.” The British, before and during the American Revolution, referred to Americans in general as Yankees. And the Americans embraced it, as the song “Yankee Doodle” will attest.
But Southerners, especially around the time of the American Civil War and after, called the Northerners in general Yankees.
In the World War I song, ‘Over There,’ one will find a reference to “The Yanks are coming,” meaning all of the US soldiers. And almost every World War II movie with Allied troops will find a British or Aussie officer referring to “You Yanks,” again including Southerners, some of whom may have balked at the term.
To that end, there was a magazine called Yank, the Army Weekly, which was produced from June 1942 to December 1945 in 21 editions for 17 countries. Appropriately, another definition of the word yank is “to pull with a quick, strong movement; jerk: yanked the emergency cord.”
A slang definition of yank is “to extract or remove abruptly: yanked the starting pitcher early in the game.” And speaking of which, the New York Yankees baseball team is probably the group of Yanks many are familiar with.
Nope, I’m no more clear on the application, or for that matter, derivation of the term.