popular tune of the American Revolution, apparently written c. 1755 by British Army surgeon Dr. Richard Schuckburgh while campaigning with Amherst's force in upper New York during the French and Indian War. The original verses mocked the colonial troops (see Yankee) serving alongside the regulars, and the Doodle element might have been, or hinted at, the 18c. slang term for "penis." The song naturally was popular with British troops in the colonies during the Revolutionary War, but after the colonials began to win skirmishes with them in 1775, they took the tune as a patriotic prize and re-worked the lyrics. The current version seems to have been written in 1776 by Edward Bangs, a Harvard sophomore who also was a Minuteman.
1683, a name applied disparagingly by Dutch settlers in New Amsterdam (New York) to English colonists in neighboring Connecticut. It may be from Dutch Janke, literally "Little John," diminutive of common personal name Jan; or it may be from Jan Kes familiar form of "John Cornelius," or perhaps an alteration of Jan Kees, dialectal variant of Jan Kaas, literally "John Cheese," the generic nickname the Flemings used for Dutchmen.
[I]t is to be noted that it is common to name a droll fellow, regarded as typical of his country, after some favorite article of food, as E[nglish] Jack-pudding, G[erman] Hanswurst ("Jack Sausage"), F[rench] Jean Farine ("Jack Flour"). [Century Dictionary, 1902, entry for "macaroni"]
Originally it seems to have been applied insultingly to the Dutch, especially freebooters, before they turned around and slapped it on the English. A less-likely theory (attested by 1832) is that it represents some southern New England Algonquian language mangling of English. In English a term of contempt (1750s) before its use as a general term for "native of New England" (1765); during the American Revolution it became a disparaging British word for all American natives or inhabitants. Contrasted with southerner by 1828. Shortened form Yank in reference to "an American" first recorded 1778. Latin-American form Yanqui attested in English by 1914 (in Mexican Spanish by 1835).
The rule observed in this country is, that the man who receives that name [Yankee] must come from some part north of him who gives it. To compensate us for giving each other nicknames, John Bull "lumps us all together," and calls us all Yankees. ["Who is a Yankee?" Massachusetts Spy, June 6, 1827]
1883, "fastidious man," New York City slang of unknown origin; recent research suggests it is a shortening of Yankee Doodle, based on the song's notion of "foppish, over-fastidious male" (compare macaroni). The vogue word of 1883, originally used in reference to the devotees of the "aesthetic" craze, later applied to city slickers, especially Easterners vacationing in the West (as in dude ranch "ranch which entertains guests and tourists for pay," attested by 1921). "The term has no antecedent record, and is prob. merely one of the spontaneous products of popular slang" [Century Dictionary].
Now, "tenderfoot" is not to be construed as the Western equivalent of that much evolved and more abused specimen of mankind, familiarly styled "dude." For even the Montana cowboy recognizes the latter. Not that he has ever seen the true prototype of a class that was erstwhile so numerous among us. But he is convinced that a person caught in the act of wearing a white linen collar, and who looks as though he might have recently shaved or washed his face, must be a dude, true and proper. ["Random Notes and Observations of a Trip through the Great Northwest," The Medical Record, Oct. 20, 1883]
Application to any male is recorded by 1966, U.S., originally in African-American vernacular.
"scrawl aimlessly," 1935, perhaps from dialectal doodle, dudle "fritter away time, trifle," or associated with dawdle (which might be the source of the dialect word). It also was a noun meaning "simple fellow" from 1620s.
LONGFELLOW: That's a name we made up back home for people who make foolish designs on paper when they're thinking. It's called doodling. Almost everybody's a doodler. Did you ever see a scratch pad in a telephone booth? People draw the most idiotic pictures when they're thinking. Dr. Von Holler, here, could probably think up a long name for it, because he doodles all the time. ["Mr. Deeds Goes to Town," screenplay by Robert Riskin, 1936; based on "Opera Hat," serialized in American Magazine beginning May 1935, by Clarence Aldington Kelland]
Related: Doodled; Doodling.
Doodle Sack. A bagpipe. Dutch. — Also the private parts of a woman. ["Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue," 1796]
"sound made by a crowing cock," 1570s, imitative; compare French cocorico, German kikeriki, Latin cucurire, Russian kikareku, Vietnamese cuc-cu, Arabic ko-ko, etc., and compare cock (n.1).
by 1839, altered spelling of through; at first often in representations of dialect (Scottish, Yankee), by 1880s in standard use as a simplified spelling.
"the southern United States," 1859, of obscure origin, first attested in the song of that name, which was popularized, if not written, by Ohio-born U.S. minstrel musician and songwriter Dan Emmett (1815-1904); perhaps a reference to the Mason-Dixon Line, but there are other well-publicized theories dating to the Civil War. Popularized nationwide in minstrel shows. Dixieland style of jazz developed in New Orleans c. 1910, so called by 1919 (in the name of a band).
It is interesting to remember that the song which is essentially Southern — "Dixie" — and that which is essentially Northern — "Yankee Doodle" — never really had any serious words to them. [The Bookman, June 1910]