The origin of the ethnic name is uncertain; it traditionally is said to be from the old Germanic word *frankon "javelin, lance" (compare Old English franca "lance, javelin"), their preferred weapon, but the reverse may be the case. Compare also Saxon, traditionally from root of Old English seax "knife." The adjectival sense of "free, at liberty" (see frank (adj.)) probably developed from the tribal name, not the other way round. It was noted by 1680s that, in the Levant, this was the name given to anyone of Western nationality (compare Feringhee and lingua franca).
fem. proper name, German, literally "battle-maid," from fem. of Old High German hild "war, battle, fight, combat," from Proto-Germanic *hildiz "battle" (source also of Old English (poetic) hild "war, battle," Old Saxon hild, Old High German hilt, Old Norse hildr), from PIE *keldh-, from root *kel- "to strike, cut" (see holt). Hild-/-hild was a common Germanic name-forming element; compare Hildebrand, Brunhild, Matilda.
Old English hild figured widely in kenning compounds: Hildbedd "deathbed;" hildegicel "blood dripping from a sword," literally "battle-icicle;" hildenædre "arrow, lance, spear," literally "war-adder;" hildesæd "weary of fighting, battle-worn," literally "battle-sad."