Word Origin & History
c.1300, from O.Fr. franc "free, sincere, genuine," from M.L. Franc "a freeman, a Frank," one of the Germanic people that conquered Celtic Gaul from the Romans c.500 C.E. and called it France, from Frankish *Frank (cf. O.H.G. Franko, O.E. Franca). The connection is that only Franks, as the conquering
class, had the status of freemen. Sense of "outspoken" first recorded in English 1540s. The origin of the ethnic name is uncertain; it traditionally is said to be from the old Germanic word *frankon "javelin, lance" (cf. O.E. franca; also Saxon, traditionally from root of O.E. seax "knife"), their preferred weapon, but the opposite may be the case. In the Levant, this was the name given to anyone of Western nationality (cf. Feringhee). Verbal sense of "to free a letter for carriage or an article for publication" (1708) is from Fr. affranchir, from the same source.