Frank Sinatra at Girl's Town Ball in Florida, ...
Frank Sinatra; Image via Wikipedia

Zappa. Sinatra. Gehry. Baum. Does this pick guarantee your son will be destined for creative genius?

Thanks to Jane, aka the Foxymoron, for suggesting Frank as our Baby Name of the Day.

Frank was a Top Ten name when the US rankings were established in 1880. He stayed in the Top Ten until 1922, and remained in the Top 100 until 1988.

That’s not counting boys who were named the more formal Francis, but only answered to the short form.

It makes for a long list, including:

  • Legendary crooner Frank Sinatra, born Francis Albert;
  • L. Frank Baum, author of the Wizard of Oz series;
  • Architects Frank Lloyd Wright and Frank Gehry;
  • Modern music trailblazers Frank Zappa and Frank Black;
  • Director Frank Capra;
  • Plenty of athletes, political leaders, and more.

Today, Frank sounds a little bit like a virtue name. But his roots are actually tied to the map. A Germanic tribe known as the Franks appears in the historical record as early as the first century; by 509, Clovis I reigned as King of the Franks. The tribe probably took their name from a javelin they favored, known as the frankon or franka. The Normans brought Frank to England as a personal name.

In the late 1100s, the Latin Franciscus – Frenchman – was a nickname given to the future Saint Francis of Assisi. He’d been baptized Giovanni, but his dad – a successful merchant – had been on business in France when his son was born. Dad nicknamed him Francesco, and father and son both shared an enthusiasm for all things related to French culture. But Francesco turned his back on privilege to form a religious order dedicated to living a simple life. He’s also the patron saint of animals.

In the sixteenth century, Saint Francis Xavier founded the religious order known as the Jesuits. Countless boys were named in honor of one or both of the religious figures.

As for the adjective frank, it also ties back to the tribe. Back in the day, only the conquering Franks were free – and so, free to speak.

Add it all up, and he’s clearly a saintly classic with quite a bit of backstory. And yet, Frank’s been falling out of favor for decades. A resurgence of interest in all things related to the Rat Pack failed to bolster ol’ Blue Eyes’ name. In 2009, Frank stood at just #289 – and had fallen steadily for decades.

Frank does have starbaby cred: Elvis Costello and Diana Krall used it for a son, Frank Harlan James, twin brother to Dexter Henry Lorcan. Amanda Peet’s older daughter is Frances Pen, called Frankie.

File Frank with other once ordinary choices that now sound offbeat on a child. There’s a capable vibe about Frank – you expect him to own more than one wrench, to be the guy you can call when your engine light clicks on. He’s not quite a grandpa name, but not quite primed for revival, either.

Let’s call him part of the next wave, a likely successor to Jack and Gus, Max and Sam. There’s also the presidential Franklin, which could put a stylish surname spin on Frank.

Regardless of his rather frosty ranking right now, Frank deserves recognition as a classic, an every guy name that will almost certainly make a comeback – eventually.

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. My name is Francesca, my mom always wanted to call me Frankie and I hated it cause I thought it was a boy’s name. Haha! They just called me Ces or Cesca.

  2. We named my now almost-3-year-old Francis William and call him Frankie. We wanted a good strong Catholic saint’s name as well as a strong classic man name. We figured with a name like Frank he could be a mechanic or a CEO (or a President, though I wouldn’t wish that on him!). Anyway, we love it and haven’t looked back! We figure he’ll be Frank when he’s older, but for now Frankie is just so dang cute, and we get so much positive feedback the only negative I’ve ever gotten was from a ten-year-old named “Tyler” of all things, who said “that’s a weird name” (irony is lost on 10-year-olds, I guess). And he’s such a Frankie! Goofball and destined for football or hockey.

  3. My 7 month old son is called Frank. Middle name Walter. A lot of people were against it (dare I even say offended) when I was pregnant. He really does suit it though! He has a grumpy, chubby face & he’ll be built for rugby. We do often call him Frankie which people seem to prefer here (England). I did nearly back out & opt for Freddie when he was a few hours old. I’m so glad I didn’t though, everyone knows the name yet it’s so unique here. There wont be any confussion in the playground when he gets to school anyway! I beam with pride every time I get to tell people my son’s name.

  4. Frank isn’t really my cup of tea.It can stay in the retirement village for me lol There’s nothing wrong with it – it’s just opposite to my taste. The only Frank I’ve known has been one Sausage dog that was bonkers

  5. We are naming our little one who is due soon Franklin/Frank. 🙂 Love it. Also, there is a new little boy at the school where I work who is a 2nd grader named Frank and he goes by Frankie.

      1. Congrats on the the arrival of the little one! Many best wishes .
        Sorry about, that I never saw your reply – didn’t mean to be rude! I’m more the Ever type