English Words in Action, Group Y

(a variety of English words which have developed through history and are currently used in our modern age)

English vocabulary quizzes in random order from easy to more difficult for greater word skills.

Simply click on this banner (or the following link) and you will be on your way to stimulate your brain for greater word comprehension with quizzes based on some of the words in this unit.

yank (s) (noun), yanks (pl)
A strong, quick pull: Dorothy gave the door a good yank in order to close it.
yank (YANGK) (verb), yanks; yanked; yanking
1. Snatched or pulled suddenly: The boy yanked the jump rope out of the girl's hand and threw it in the bushes.
2. Pulled out, extracted: The dentist yanked the abscessed tooth out of Bill's mouth.
Yankee, Yank (YANG kee, YANGK) (s) (noun); Yankees, Yanks (pl)
1. New Englanders or those who come from the northern part of the U.S.: The whaling ship's crew consisted of Yankees.

The guy from Georgia claimed that he could out run any Yankee in the race.

2. United States members of a military organization: The Yanks distinguished themselves during the battle.

Historical background

The origin of Yankee has been the subject of much debate, but the most likely source is the Dutch name Janke, meaning "little Jan" or "little John", a nickname that dates back to the 1680s.

Perhaps because it was used as the name of pirates, the name Yankee came to be used as a term of contempt. It was used this way in the 1750s by General James Wolfe, the British general who secured British domination of North America by defeating the French at Quebec.

The name may have been applied to New Englanders as an extension of an original use referring to Dutch settlers living along the Hudson River. Whatever the reason, Yankee is first recorded in 1765 as a name for an inhabitant of New England.

The first recorded use of the term by the British to refer to Americans in general appears in the 1780s, in a letter by Lord Horatio Nelson. Around the same time it began to be abbreviated to Yank.

During the American Revolution, American soldiers adopted this term of derision as a term of national pride. The derisive use nevertheless remained alive and even intensified in the South during the Civil War, when it referred not to all Americans but to those loyal to the Union North.

During the "War Between the States", Southerners nicknamed their Northern enemies Yankees or damn Yankees; so, the term became a negative epithet again, and in some parts of the U.S. South, it still might be.

When someone from other countries refer to a person or people from the U.S., Yankee has been a synonym for "U.S. citizen" because immediately after the American Revolution, the friendliness or unfriendliness of its use varied depending on the historical circumstances.

Most of the time, the term carries less emotion except, of course, for certain baseball fans.

Family Word Finder; The Reader's Digest Association, Inc.;
Pleasantville, New York; 1975; page 892.
yap (s) (noun), yaps (pl)
1. A dog's loud, quick bark; shrill barks: The puppy made a series of yaps and ran out the door.
2. In the U.S., a slang term for "mouth": Brad told his son to shut his yap.
yap (YAP) (verbs), yaps; yapped; yapping
1. To bark quickly and shrilly: The little dog yapped all evening until its owners returned.
2. Talking incessantly, jabbering: Jewel's neighbor is always yapping about some new diet.
3. Raving or complaining: What is the opposition party yapping about now?

Links to all of the groups of English words in action, Groups A to Z.

You may see the bibliographic list of sources of information for these words in action.