January 15, 2009


updated Sept 2015
Franklin ~ Free Landowner ~ English

President Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin is a perfectly well-rounded name for parents to consider. It's got everything: a cute nickname (Frankie), an amazing history (more on that below) and it even manages to fit with today's trends by ending with that in-demand "en" sound. But Franklin has seen better days in terms of popularity. It's been in the 400s since the 1990s...which might be appealing if you're looking for a slightly unique name.

Presidential Status & Famous Bearers
The glory days of Franklin was in the 1930s, and particularly 1933, the year Franklin D. Roosevelt took office. He arrived just when our country was in the depths of the Great Depression, promising (and delivering) hope for the future. But the history of the name goes back even further to the "original," Benjamin Franklin. His incredible contributions to society as an inventor, philosopher, and scientist inspired many parents to use his surname as their son's given name. Which is why, even before FDR, Franklin Pierce was the first American president with the name.

History & Meaning
Franklin simply means "free landowner" and was used in medieval times as a term for those owning property. That might sound familiar if you've read Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, The Franklin's Tale. Here, "franklin" doesn't refer to a particular person but is being used as a term for landowner. The name has completely different origins from the full name Frank, which comes from a German surname. It's a little confusing, because Frank is a natural variation of the name Franklin.

A Vintage Charmer
This name has perfectly proper vintage appeal, worthy of a bowtie and a pacifier that sports a mustache. It's got a fantastic Depression-era appeal, with a bit of hopeful Americana thrown in. The nicknames Frank and Frankie are right on pitch if you're looking for something retro chic with boyish charm. I think this name is underused, if you couldn't tell!

More on this name
  • For 2014, Franklin ranked at #453
  • Variations: Franklyn, Frank, Frankie/Franky
  • Celebrities with this surname include Bonnie Franklin (actress) & Aretha Franklin (singer/soul-queen)
  • Franklin is a character from the comic strip "Peanuts"
  • Most U.S. states have a city or county named Franklin.

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