Etymology & Historical Origin of the Baby Name Francis

Francis is a masculine name from the Late Latinate Franciscus, a vocabulary word denoting ‘French’ or ‘Frenchman.’ This was a nickname given to St. Francis of Assisi (whose baptismal name was actually Giovanni) because of his wealthy father’s business connections in France and his general admiration of the French people. St. Francis had a pleasant, happy childhood, but as a young man, a couple of bad experiences caused him to turn away from the material world and devote himself to the poor and sick. After he was joined by a few disciples, these so-called Franciscans dedicated themselves to humility, poverty and the love for all living creatures. St. Francis (or San Francisco to the Spanish) is often depicted surrounded by animals, particularly birds. It’s no surprise that St. Francis is the patron saint of animals and the environment, but he is also the patron saint of Italy. Thanks to the cult that grew up around St. Francis, the name spread in the 14th century and became even more popular during the Italian Renaissance of the 16th century. This old classic has given way to several forms in various languages including François (French), Franz (German), Francisco (Spanish), and Francesco or Franco (Italian). The feminine versions of this name are Frances, Francesca or Françoise and the many pet forms include Franny, Frank, Fran, Fanny, Frankie, Frannie, and Sissy.

All About the Baby Name – Francis

Personality

OF THE BOY NAME FRANCIS

The number Seven personality is deeply mystical and highly in tune with their spirituality. They operate on a different wavelength than the average joe. Spending time alone comes easily to Sevens, as it gives them time to contemplate philosophical, religious and spiritual ideas in an effort to find "real truth".  Sevens are wise, but often exude mystery as if they are tapped into something the rest of us don't understand. They love the outdoors and are fed by nature. Sevens are constantly seeking to understand human nature, our place in the universe, and the mystery of life in general. This makes them quite artistic and poetic, but they are also keen observers with high intellect - so they are equally scientific-minded. Sevens are charitable and care deeply about the human condition.

Popularity

OF THE BOY NAME FRANCIS

The masculine Francis is an example of a classic name in America that has gone seriously out of fashion in modern times. Between 1880 and 1940, Francis averaged around the 40th most popular name for boys in the United States. In 1956, the name fell off the Top 100 list for the first time in 75 years. From that point on, the name has shown only backwards momentum on the charts. The current trends of today reject such a feminine sounding male name and so Frank (originally a nickname for Francis) has now overtaken his predecessor on the charts. It’s sad to see since Francis is such a timeless classic and old-school favorite – we certainly hope the name is not headed for obscurity forever! Francisco is still a high ranking name among the Spanish so at least they’re keeping it alive, as are the French with François. We like the idea of Francophile parents bestowing Francis or Frances upon their children (that’s how Saint Francis of Assisi got his moniker anyway!). It indicates a love of France and the French culture in general which make it a nice homage. It’s a beautiful name for the religious minded since St. Francis was a lovely, gentle soul and lover of animals. Or even for those “green” parents out there since St. Francis is also the patron saint of the environment. It’s the namesake of San Francisco, California, one of the nation’s greatest and most multifaceted cities. In any case, for those parents who think this name is too feminine, we say take your head out of the sand. Some rather masculine namesakes for your edification include: Sir Francis Drake the explorer, F. Scott Fitzgerald the great American writer, Francis Ford Coppola the director, and Francis Sinatra the beloved crooner. You want to tell us any of these men were “sissies”? Case closed.

Quick Facts

ON FRANCIS

GENDER:

Boy

ORIGIN:

English

NUMBER OF SYLLABLES:

2

RANKING POPULARITY:

506

PRONUNCIATION:

FRAN-sis

SIMPLE MEANING:

France, Frenchman, Free man

Characteristics

OF FRANCIS

Mystical

Wise

Eccentric

Intuitive

Imaginative

Philosophical

Solitary

Cultural References to the Baby Name – Francis

Literary Characters

OF THE BABY NAME FRANCIS

Frank Armstrong is the favorite older brother of the protagonist, Meggie Cleary, in Colleen McCullough’s 1971 blockbuster, The Thorn Birds. Frank is a rebellious, quick-tempered young man, adored by his mother and scorned by his father – with good reason – it’s not his father. It seems that Mama had a serious love affair with a married man, had Frank out of wedlock, and was married off to Paddy Cleary in disgrace. Now that’s a stacked deck to come up against, and poor Frank makes the most of it. When he discovers his heritage, he runs away, much to the sorrow of his mother and sister, and they later learn that he is in prison for killing a man in a fight. We wish we could come up with a happier ending for him.

Popular Songs

ON FRANCIS

Francis
a song by Terre Roche

Prayer of Saint Francis
a song by Sarah McLachlan

Famous People

NAMED FRANCIS

Saint Francis of Assisi (famous saint)
Saint Francis Xavier (16th century saint)
Francis Bacon (scientist/philosopher)
Sir Francis Drake (explorer)
Francis Scott Fitzgerald (novelist)
Francis Ford Coppola (director)
Francis Albert Sinatra (singer)
Francis Scott Key (author of "The Star-Spangled Banner")
Francis Bird (sculptor)
Francis Regan Harrington (my beloved uncle RIP)
Saint Francis of Assisi (famous saint)
Saint Francis Xavier (16th century saint)
Francis Bacon (scientist/philosopher)
Sir Francis Drake (explorer)
Francis Scott Fitzgerald (novelist)
Francis Ford Coppola (director)
Francis Albert Sinatra (singer)
Francis Scott Key (author of "The Star-Spangled Banner")
Francis Bird (sculptor)
Francis Regan Harrington (my beloved uncle RIP)
Saint Francis of Assisi (famous saint)
Saint Francis Xavier (16th century saint)
Francis Bacon (scientist/philosopher)
Sir Francis Drake (explorer)
Francis Scott Fitzgerald (novelist)
Francis Ford Coppola (director)
Francis Albert Sinatra (singer)
Francis Scott Key (author of "The Star-Spangled Banner")
Francis Bird (sculptor)
Francis Regan Harrington (my beloved uncle RIP)

Children of Famous People

NAMED FRANCIS

We cannot find any children of famous people with the first name Francis

Historic Figures

WITH THE NAME FRANCIS

St. Francis of Assisi was born Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone (nicknamed “Francesco”) to a wealthy Italian family. In his youth he indulged in the usual antics common to a 12th century carefree young man, but a serious illness apparently gave him time to ponder the nature of his soul. He soon began the ministry that would last his lifetime, that of preaching, renouncing material possessions, embracing chastity and endeavoring to love all God’s creatures, human and non. Pretty big order! So an order he founded – the Franciscans, along with a cloistered order for women, the Poor Clares. Legend is rather difficult to separate from fact, but St. Francis is credited with introducing the Nativity Scene as a fixture at Christmas time, as well as having received the stigmata – the wounds of Christ’s crucifixion. (Well, perhaps that’s a bad example of legend versus fact.) In his day, Francis apparently also traveled to Egypt in an unsuccessful effort to convert the sultan non-violently (as opposed to the methods of the “Holy” Crusades). Francis was declared a saint within a couple of years of his death; today he is one of the most beloved figures in this sanctified pantheon, and is closely associated with an abiding love for animals. The current Catholic pope, Jorge Bergoglio, honored him by taking his name upon his election as Pope Francis. We hope it proves to be as popular as Leo and Pius!

Sir Francis Drake was hands-down the most renowned seaman of the Elizabethan Age. Born in England, Drake’s father abandoned the family and young Francis was brought up among relatives in Plymouth who combined vocations as merchants and pirates. He enlisted in the family fleet by the time he was 18 and participated in the seizing and plundering of ships off the French coast. By his late 20s, Drake was in command of his own ship involved in slave-trading in the Spanish colonies of the Caribbean. Not the most honorable of starts in the world, his lowly beginnings would forever make him disrespected by his other “well-born” contemporaries. A couple of bad experiences with the Spanish during Drake’s voyages to the West Indies made him vow for revenge and retribution; the Spanish would become his archenemies forever. This brought him to the attention of the Queen who would finance his next voyage and give him implicit permission to plunder away. Drake set sail for America set on Panama where he successfully attacked a silver-bearing mule train which made him both famous and rich. On this trip he also viewed the Pacific Ocean from Panama and became intent upon sailing an English ship on those seas. In 1577 he was chosen to lead a circumnavigation expedition financed by the Queen Elizabeth herself which he also used as a successful pirating adventure that made his future fortune permanent. He would return three years later in 1580 on his ship the Golden Hind (nee Pelican) and Queen Elizabeth came aboard to knight him. He was also made mayor of Plymouth. As hostilities broke out again with Spain, Elizabeth would call on him to “impeach the provisions of Spain.” With a fleet of 30 ships, Drake stormed the Spanish harbor of Cádiz and destroyed critical vessels and supplies meant for the Armada. This action would weaken the Armada in their later battles with the English, thus helping the English to defeat them. In summary, Drake was a fearless if ethically questionable man. It’s no surprise that the Spaniards referred to him as Franciscus Draco, or 'Francis the Dragon.'

Saint Francis Xavier was born into a noble and wealthy family in Xavier, Spain in the Basque Kingdom of Navarre. He was highly educated in Paris where he first met Ignatius of Loyola. Together with five others, the two would go onto found the Society of Jesus (known as the Jesuits), a religious order of men who followed the teachings of the Catholic Church which was recognized and approved by Pope Paul III in 1540. Xavier spent most of his life on missionaries spreading Catholicism in countries such as Mozambique and India, and stretching way out into Asia.