[ frangk ]
/ fræŋk /
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adjective, frank·er, frank·est.
verb (used with object)
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Origin of frank

First recorded in 1150–1200; Middle English “not a serf, free; generous; unconfined; exempt from tax,” from Old French franc, from Late Latin francus “free,” originally Frank

synonym study for frank

1. Frank, candid, open, outspoken imply a freedom and boldness in speaking. Frank is applied to one unreserved in expressing the truth and to one's real opinions and sentiments: a frank analysis of a personal problem. Candid suggests that one is sincere and truthful or impartial and fair in judgment, sometimes unpleasantly so: a candid expression of opinion. Open implies a lack of reserve or of concealment: open antagonism. Outspoken applies to a person who expresses himself or herself freely, even when this is inappropriate: an outspoken and unnecessary show of disapproval.


frank·a·ble, adjectivefranker, noun

Other definitions for frank (2 of 4)

[ frangk ]
/ fræŋk /

noun Informal.

Origin of frank

An Americanism dating back to 1900–05; by shortening

Other definitions for frank (3 of 4)

[ frangk ]
/ fræŋk /

a member of a group of ancient Germanic peoples dwelling in the regions of the Rhine, one division of whom, the Salians, conquered Gaul about a.d. 500, founded an extensive kingdom, and gave origin to the name France.
(in the Levant) any native of western Europe.

Origin of Frank

before 900; Middle English Franke, Old English Franca (cognate with Old High German Franko ), perhaps from the Germanic base of Old English franka spear, javelin, a weapon allegedly favored by the Franks

Other definitions for frank (4 of 4)

[ frangk, frahngk; Russian, frahnk; German frahngk ]
/ fræŋk, frɑŋk; Russian, frɑnk; German frɑŋk /

Anne, 1929–45, German Jewish girl who died in Belsen concentration camp in Germany: her diaries about her family hiding from Nazis in Amsterdam (1942–44) were published in 1947.
Il·ya Mi·khai·lo·vich [ee-lyah myi-khahy-luh-vyich], /iˌlyɑ myɪˈxaɪ lə vyɪtʃ/, 1908–90, Russian physicist: Nobel Prize 1958.
Le·on·hard [ley-awn-hahrt], /ˈleɪ ɔn hɑrt/, 1882–1961, German novelist.
Robert, 1924–2019, U.S. photographer and filmmaker, born in Switzerland.
Waldo, 1889–1967, U.S. novelist and social critic.
a male given name, form of Francis or Franklin.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does frank mean?

Frank is used to describe something that is honest and straightforward, especially in speech, as in The fashion show judge gave frank criticism to every contestant, even if they didn’t want it. 

Frank can also be used to describe something that is direct and undisguised, as in My teacher was frank with me, saying bluntly that I had failed the course. 

Although used rarely, frank also refers to a mark put on letters or packages to signal they should be shipped for free. In the United States, franks are reserved for members of Congress and other high-ranking government officials.

Frank can be used as a verb to mean to mark the mail as special, as in The post office has strict rules when it comes to franking mail for free delivery. 

Related to this sense, frank can mean to give free passage to a person, as in The diplomat was franked through the military checkpoint. 

Example: The ballet teacher’s advice was frank, but the blunt criticism was very helpful to the rising star.

Where does frank come from?

The first records of frank come from around 1250. It comes from the Late Latin francus, meaning “free.” Interestingly, this word comes from the Germanic Franks,  a group of Germanic peoples who lived in what is now Germany and France around 400. The name of the modern country of France is based on the name of these peoples.

In the most commonly used meaning today, frank means someone is freely stating something or metaphorically freeing something by not hiding it.

Frank is used similarly to words like blunt, open, candid, and outspoken. These words often mean a person is being honest even when it is rude to do so or when the truth is going to hurt. Typically, you will hear phrases like “I’m going to be frank with you” or “To be frank …” when someone wants to warn you that they are about to share an honest—and most likely unpleasant—opinion or fact.

Did you know … ?

What are some other forms related to frank?

What are some synonyms for frank?

What are some words that share a root or word element with frank

What are some words that often get used in discussing frank?

How is frank used in real life?

The word frank is often used when someone is giving their honest, forthright opinion. You might use frank to warn that your opinion will be unpopular.

Try using frank!

Is frank used correctly in the following sentence?

Rather than downplay the disaster, the mayor made frank statements that honestly detailed the damage from the tornado.

How to use frank in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for frank (1 of 3)

/ (fræŋk) /

verb (tr)
an official mark or signature affixed to a letter, parcel, etc, ensuring free delivery or delivery without stamps
the privilege, issued to certain people and establishments, entitling them to delivery without postage stamps

Derived forms of frank

frankable, adjectivefranker, nounfrankness, noun

Word Origin for frank

C13: from Old French franc, from Medieval Latin francus free; identical with Frank (in Frankish Gaul only members of this people enjoyed full freedom)

British Dictionary definitions for frank (2 of 3)

/ (fræŋk) /

a member of a group of West Germanic peoples who spread from the east bank of the middle Rhine into the Roman Empire in the late 4th century ad, gradually conquering most of Gaul and Germany. The Franks achieved their greatest power under Charlemagne

Word Origin for Frank

Old English Franca; related to Old High German Franko; perhaps from the name of a typical Frankish weapon (compare Old English franca javelin)

British Dictionary definitions for frank (3 of 3)

/ (Dutch fraŋk) /

Anne . 1929–45, German Jewess, whose Diary (1947) recorded the experiences of her family while in hiding from the Nazis in Amsterdam (1942–44). They were betrayed and she died in a concentration camp
Robert . born 1924, US photographer and film maker, born in Switzerland; best known for his photographic book The Americans (1959)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012