Yankee is basically a native or inhabitant of New England. They are also considered to be an inhabitant or dweller of a northern US state, in particular a Union soldier during the Civil War. Some sources claim that the name is of an origin of Dutch, where it literally means "little Jan" or "little John." Some other sources claim to be of an origin in 1765 where it was the name of the pirates Captain Yankey, also known as Yankey Duch (presumably meaning "Dutch"), mentioned in 1683 and 1684, and a Captain John Williams, known as Yankey or Yanky, in 1687 and 1688.
The term Yankee also refers to Americans from New England, whose associates inwards from Great Britain previous to 1700.
The origin of the word Yankee is yet to be ascertained. This word has triggered of many debates and many have different types of assumptions as to the origin of the word but the most popular one is that Yankee is a word that has been derived from a Dutch name Janke which means "little Jan" or "little John". It was a nickname that was very popular way back in the 17th century. Initially this word was also used to denote the Dutch people and the Flemish people in the 1600s and later on was used as a derogatory term for pirates.
Today it is used as a term to refer to the Americans from New England. On a broader term it is used to indicate any northerner during the American Civil War. Later this term was used for any inhabitant of America by the British during the 1780s and it is seen in a letter by Lord Horatio Nelson. The word Yankee was further abbreviated to yank and during the American Revolution, American soldiers used this term of derision as a term of national pride.