English from Latin
"from France; free man"

Frances Origin and Meaning

The name Frances is a girl's name of Latin origin meaning "from France; free man".

Frances, a soft and gentle classic last popular a hundred years ago, is trending again. The cool nickname Frankie is one reason for the revival of Frances, adding lightness and sass to a serious name. Frances is the feminine form of Francis, the English variation of the Latin name Franciscus. Franciscus, meaning "Frenchman," was taken from the Germanic tribe the Franks, which got its name from the francisca, the axe they used in battle. Until the seventeenth century, the spellings Frances and Francis were used interchangeably for both sexes.

More recently, Frances started receiving new attention when it was chosen in the early 90s by Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love for their only child. It's been by such stylish parents as Jimmy Fallon and Amanda Peet (who nicknamed her daughter Frankie).

Frances was a favorite of the Tudor aristocracy after being given to Henry VII's granddaughter. St. Frances (Mother) Cabrini was the first American citizen to be canonized.

Some of the best known pop culture bearers of the name were known by diminutives—the Franny of J.D. Salinger's Franny and Zooey, Francie in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Frankie in A Member of the Wedding, Baby in Dirty Dancing, and Gidget in Gidget. Traditional nickname Fran feels a bit bland and Fanny, though possessing some eighteenth century charm, is unusable in Britain and Australia where it is slang for female genitalia.

Frances is the endearing badger in the childhood favorite Bedtime for Frances and other Frances books.

Among well known bearers are Frances Perkins, Secretary of Labor in the Roosevelt era; actresses McDormand, Dee, Farmer, and Fisher; journalist Fitzgerald; and writers Burney and Hodgson Burnett.

Frances was the abandoned first name of Judy Garland, Dinah Shore, and Dale Evans.

Some attractive foreign versions are the increasingly popular Francesca, Francoise, Franca, Fanya, and Francine.

Frances began trending upward before Pope Francis was named in 2013, but that helped propel it up further than this somewhat sedate classic name might have gone on its own.

# 405 in the US

Frances Rank in US Top 1000

# 203 on Nameberry

Frances Rank in Nameberry Top 1000

Frances Popularity

Famous People Named Frances

  • Frances Elena FarmerAmerican actress
  • Frances Ann O'ConnorAustralian actress
  • Saint Frances of RomeItalian mystic and oblate
  • Frances GreyDuchess of Suffolk, mother of Lady Jane Grey
  • Frances NewtonLady Cobham, Lady of the Bedchamber to England's Queen Elizabeth I
  • Frances RadclyffeCountess of Sussex, Lady of the Bedchamber to England's Queen Elizabeth I
  • Frances Custisdaughter of U.S. First Lady Martha Washington and Daniel Custis
  • Frances Kathleen Oldham Kelseypharmacologist and physician of the FDA who refused to authorize Thalidomide
  • Frances "Fanny" NelsonViscountess Nelson, wife of Admiral Horatio Nelson
  • Frances Elizabeth Cox (18121897), translator of hymn "Jesus Lives!"
  • Frances Ridley Havergal (18361879), hymnist and composer
  • Frances Clara Folsom Cleveland PrestonU.S. First Lady as wife of President Grover Cleveland
  • Frances Scott "Scottie" FitzgeraldAmerican journalist, daughter of novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Frances Joan DavidsonViscountess Davidson , English MP
  • Frances Louise McDormandAmerican actress
  • Frances FitzGeraldAmerican journalist and author
  • Frances Hodgson BurnettEnglish children's novelist
  • Frances Elizabeth Caroline WillardAmerican suffragist
  • Fannie Coralie "Frances" PerkinsU.S. Secretary of Labor, first woman cabinet member
  • Frances Ethel Gummbirth name of American actress Judy Garland
  • Frances Marie BurkeMiss America 1940
  • Frances Teresa StewartDuchess of Richmond and Lennox aka La Belle Stuart, model of Britannia
  • Frances Anne VaneViscountess Vane, English memoirist
  • Frances MayesAmerican novelist
  • Frances Hardman ConroyAmerican actress
  • Frances BlackIrish singer
  • Frances BurneyEnglish novelist
  • Eleanor Frances CallierAmerican actress
  • Frances Pen "Frankie" Benioffdaughter of actress Amanda Peet
  • Frances McKeeScottish musician of band The Vaselines
  • Frances Hussey SternhaganAmerican actress
  • Diana Frances SpencerPrincess of Wales
  • Frances GriffithsEnglish photographer of the Cottingley Fairies
  • Frances YipHong Kong pop singer
  • Frances Clementine Suplee (b. 2006)daughter of American actor Ethan Suplee
  • Frances "Frankie" Pen Friedman (b. 2007)daughter of American actress Amanda Peet
  • Frances Cole Fallon (b. 2014)daughter of comedian Jimmy Fallon
  • Frances Harper Wyle (b. 2015)daughter of American actor Noah Wyle
  • Frances Bean Cobaindaughter of musicians Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love
  • Frances Laiz Setta Schenkkan (b. 2016)daughter of Brazilian,American actress Morena Baccarin and American actor Ben McKenzie
  • Frances Afifi (b. 2016)daughter of actress Sarah Chalke

Frances in Pop Culture

  • Frances "Frankie" character in "Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends"
  • Francescharacter in "Sonic X"
  • Frances 'Frankie' Addamscharacter in "The Member of the Wedding" by Carson McCullers
  • Francis Bonnefoycharacter in "Hetalia"
  • Frances "Franny" Glasscharacter in "Franny and Zooey" by J.D. Salinger
  • Frances Halladaycharacter in "Frances Ha"
  • Frances "Frankie" Heckcharacter on 'The Middle'
  • Frances Hindleycharacter in "Wuthering Heights" by Emily Bronte
  • Frances "Baby" Housemancharacter in "Dirty Dancing"
  • Frances Midfordcharacter in anime Kuroshitsuji/Black Butler
  • Mary Frances "Francie" Nolancharacter in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
  • Frances "Frankie" Almond Smithcharacter in "The Hole" and "After the Hole"
  • Frances "Francie" Stevenscharacter in "To Catch A Thief"
  • Frances Waterscharacter in the "St Clare" book series by Enid Blyton
  • Bedtime for Franceschildren's book series by Russell Hoban
  • Frances "Frank" Reagancharacter in Blue Bloods
  • Frances "Frankie" Kane aka Magentacharacter in DC Universe
  • Francescharacter in short story "Fostered" by Tina Tirrell
  • Frances "Frankie" Pereiracharacter in Blue Valentine

Frances in Nameberry Blog Posts